AAA and Tire Industry Demonstrate How Improper Tire Care can Affect Safety as Part of National Tire Check Day

Chantilly, Virginia – 10/20/2006

New poll suggests 85 percent of motorists do not know how to check tire pressure.

Falling temperatures and wet or snowy weather conditions will affect how your vehicle grips the road. If tires are under-inflated or bald you may not be as connected to the road as you think, according to AAA.

To promote driving safety, help consumers save money and reduce roadside breakdowns AAA and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) have teamed up to promote National Tire Check Day on Oct. 20. Those in attendance will witness striking visual evidence of the dangers involved when wet roads and worn tires collide. Driving instructions on how to handle a sudden tire blow out and important tips on proper tire care also will be presented.

A new poll released today by the RMA shows only 34 percent of respondents know how to tell if their tires are bald. The study also reveals motorists lack of knowledge on proper tire placement. Four out of five drivers do not know the proper mounting position when replacing two bald tires with two new tires.

Federal government and tire industry data show that too many motorists are not paying enough attention to the only component that keeps a car on the road: the tires.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show one in every three cars has a significantly under inflated tire. Every year tire blow-outs cause an average of 23,000 vehicle crashes, while low tire pressure claims 660 lives and injures 33,000 people, according to NHTSA. Not surprisingly, a September RMA survey found that 85 percent of drivers do not know how to properly check their tire pressure.

“Despite the risk posed by poorly maintained tires, too many motorists are neglecting tire care,” says John Nielsen, director of AAA’s Approved Auto Repair Program. “Taking five minutes each month to check and adjust tire pressure can enhance safety, improve fuel economy and help tires last longer.”

“When it comes time to replace tires, the best course of action is to replace all four at the same time using quality tires of the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended size,” says Dan Zielinski, RMA vice president. However, if you replace only two tires Zielinski recommends that they be installed on the rear axle to ensure maximum vehicle stability.

AAA and RMA also suggest motorists check their owner’s manual for additional tire replacement recommendations for their vehicle.

A nationwide RMA survey in September 2006 found:

Motorists rank tire care among the top two maintenance practices needed to ensure a vehicle is in good condition and safe to drive.
Motorists said checking tire pressure is the number one maintenance practice they can perform to maximize fuel efficiency.
79 percent of motorists reported they own a tire gauge.
But despite these findings…

Only 15 percent of drivers properly check their tire pressure including checking the pressure at least once a month when the tires are cold, and inflating them to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure.
26 percent of drivers mistakenly believe the best time to check their tires is when they are warm after being driven several miles.
Only 36 percent of drivers know where to find the recommended tire pressure for their vehicle. It is in the owner’s manual, and also usually printed on a tire information decal attached to the driver’s door jamb.
55 percent of drivers mistakenly believe the inflation pressure molded into the tire sidewall is the recommendation for their vehicle.
Only 34 percent of drivers know how to tell if their tires are bald.
Four out of five drivers do not know that the rear axle is the proper mounting position when replacing only two tires.

To help motorists properly maintain their entire vehicle, visitors to www.AAA.com can enroll at no charge in AAA AutoManagerР’В®. This application sends users regular email reminders when their vehicles are due for recommended maintenance, and provides additional tools to help diagnose vehicle problems and locate nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair shops.

Additional information on tire safety, driving tips, and proper tire care may be found on AAA club web sites at www.aaa.com, on the RMA’s web site at www.betiresmart.org and on the NHTSA’s web site at www.safercar.gov.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 49 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive services. Since its founding in 1902, AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association, based in Washington, D.C., is the national trade association for U.S. tire manufacturers.

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