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The Dangers of Low Tire Pressure

March 25, 2016 Automobile Accidents

flat tireThe tire is one of the most important components of your car. It provides road traction, without which acceleration, steering, and braking is impossible. When your tires are degraded because of poor maintenance, so are your braking, steering, and handling. Chronic neglect can also cause blowouts and loss of control of your car.

Tire maintenance requires little more than maintaining its air pressure. In spite of its importance in car performance and motorist safety, it is one of the most commonly neglected parts of a car. Because tires slowly lose air over time, tire neglect manifests itself as low air pressure. Low tire pressure affects your safety in the following ways:

  • It increases your braking distance. Under-inflated tires lose their shape which affects traction. This means your car takes longer to stop on wet pavement.
  • It diminishes your car’s handling. Low tire pressure reduces lateral traction which degrades handling.
  • It reduces tread life. Under-inflated tires typically cause accelerated outer tread wear. This leaves only a narrow strip of good tread at the tire’s center. This loss of tire tread further increases braking distance and diminishes handling. In addition, the tires are more prone to hydroplaning in puddles at highway speeds.
  • It causes tire damage. Under inflation causes the sidewalls to flex more which builds up excessive heat. The heat and flexing cause the rubber to separate from the reinforcing materials next to it. The rubber also fatigues and develops micro-cracks. This weakens the tire and may cause a blowout. A tire blowout of the left front wheel causes the car to veer hard to the left and into oncoming traffic. A front right tire blowout causes the car to veer off the right side of the road. A rear tire blowout may cause the vehicle to spin out of control.

Tire Inflation Tips

  • Don’t use the pressure indicated on the tire’s sidewall. This is a maximum pressure. Instead, use the pressure shown on a sticker inside the door frame or in the glove compartment. The pressure is also given in the owner’s manual.
  • Use a quality pressure gauge. Don’t rely on the low-pressure warning light because this is set at too low a pressure. Never judge pressure by looking at the tire. By the time you notice a bulge in your tires, they are already under inflated by 50%.
  • Check your tire pressures while they are still cool. Your tire’s recommended pressure is a “cold” figure. Therefore, you should check your tire pressure in the morning before you drive. Subtract the actual pressure from the recommended pressure and then add the difference once you reach a service station.

If you were injured in an accident because of a motorist’s negligence, the Indianapolis car accident lawyers at Wilson Kehoe Winingham can help you explore your legal options. For a free case evaluation, contact us.

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