7 On Your Side: Under Pressure - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

6/11/07

7 On Your Side: Under Pressure

Roxy Labrada babies her new SUV...always keeping it spotless and in tip top shape.

But, when it comes to one piece of maintenance she simply spins her wheels.

"I don't check my tire pressure regularly," admits Roxy.

In fact, Roxy says she can't even remember the last time she pumped up the pressure.

"I just don't make the time for it," Roxy says.

Despite all the safety campaigns pushing proper inflation, drivers are actually getting more complacent!

During a recent survey by the Rubber Manufacturers Association, only 55% of drivers reported checking their tires during the prior month. That's down from 70% over the same period last year!

"This is a very critical safety concern," says Daniel Zielinski with Rubber Manufacturers Association.

Low pressure can lead to poor handling and even tire failure.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns under inflated tires are to blame for 660 deaths and 33,000 injuries on the road each year.

"I wasn't aware that it was that much of an issue," says Roxy.

And, it's not just safety at stake. Under inflation can lead to quicker tire wear and you'll pay at the pump too.

"When your tires are under inflated you're putting more rubber, more friction on the road. So you're going to burn more gas," says Zielinski.

A growing number of cars is equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems. And they'll be standard in all new vehicles starting next year.

But don't think they'll get you off the hook.

Michael Calkins with AAA, "AAA does have concern that when tire pressure monitoring systems become standard, motorists will pay even less attention to their tires."

A bad move, since the systems don't alert you until pressure drops by 25%.

"Just like when the engine oil light comes on. That's the time when you may have a serious oil problem. So, same with the tire pressure monitoring system, when that light comes on, you have a serious tire problem," says Zielinski.

To prevent problems, the AAA says weekly tire checks are best. But monthly is okay.

This is important: to find the right pressure, check your owner's manual or the decal located on the driver's side door jam.

And contrary to popular belief Calkins says, "Motorists should never use the tire pressure that's molded onto the tire sidewall, because that's the pressure required for the tire to be at its maximum load capacity, not the recommended inflation pressure."

We asked Roxy to check her pressure. She was shocked to find all four of her tires were under inflated.

"I need to put some air in my tires," says Roxy.

When checking your tire pressure experts caution, use your own tire gauge instead of the one attached to the air machine at the gas station or service center.

They may be out of calibration and, if so, will not give you an accurate read.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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