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Is It Dangerous to Drive on Underinflated Tires?

Underinflated Tires

A car accident is a common occurrence, for a wide variety of reasons, some of them out of control of the driver.

Driving is expensive, and although for many, it is the only way to get work, school, and everything else, a car is a losing investment.

Maintaining a safe vehicle must be a priority, even if the car seems to be taking more time and money from you than it seems to be worth. This is important not only for your safety, but also for the safety of anyone else who travels in your car and for anyone else on the road.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong on the road and cause an accident, which unfortunately often translates to injuries and sometimes results in deaths. It could be driver distraction, driving under the influence, a faulty traffic signal, bad road conditions, bad weather, speeding, and other causes. Making sure the car is safe for the road is something that can be incorporated into your routine.

Not only does a good maintenance plan make your car safer for yourself and others, but also it can take away the stress of driving with a car that is not functioning smoothly, and it can make the ride more enjoyable.

Although there are a lot of parts to a motor vehicle, one of the most often neglected parts is the tires. The engine will receive immediate attention; a bad battery will as well. However, if the tire pressure is low, many drivers will put off checking the tires, and if necessary, getting a new tire or tires, until they have a flat.

Why Tires Need a Regular Maintenance Plan

Drivers who have been in a car when a tire bursts or have seen it happen to another car on the road know that once the blowout happens, the driver can lose control of the vehicle and in the best-case scenario, the driver pulls to the side of the road before getting into, or creating, a collision.

The lack of control of a car being driven with essentially three wheels can result in catastrophic personal injury and significant property damage. 

A blowout is an extreme situation, and in most cases, the driver will know long before the tire explodes that it is losing air or needs attention. Many vehicles have a warning system alerting the driver to low tire pressure. When tires have low air pressure, the driver and passengers can feel changes in the road, grading, and other sensations much quicker. Turns take longer to accomplish and steering takes more effort when tires are low on air pressure, and a driver will notice that the car takes longer to slow down when they hit the brakes.  The vehicle’s slowed response to the driver hitting the brakes can create an accident, and although it is less of an immediate problem, if the driver is struggling to steer, the chances of a collision in making a turn go up as well.

Drivers may fear that having the car at a mechanic’s shop regularly for routine maintenance will be too expensive. However, tires operating with diminished air pressure will need to be replaced more quickly, and that is always a big-ticket purchase. Therefore, keeping tire air pressure up to the recommended standard will protect drivers from the usually unexpected expensive purchase of new tires.

Causes of Tire Air Leaks

Although there is much appropriate focus in public outreach campaigns for drivers to keep their eyes on the road ahead, in the case of common dangers to tires, the road ahead may have obstacles for which you either cannot adjust or might not see anyway.

Tires will flatten on the road while the car is being driven, getting hotter and hotter as they go. The pressure from the road on the tire, combined with the reduced air pressure inside the tire, will cause the tire to begin degrading, and the rubber will begin shredding from the tire form. Once this process begins, a new tire may be needed.

Here are some of the threats to your tire’s health:

  • Potholes, dips in the road for street sewers, and unevenly paved roads.   All of these can diminish air pressure in the tires.
  • Sharp objects such as nails or broken glass. These little obstacles are more unexpected but very common, such as sharp objects and broken glass on the road. This can cause puncture wounds for a tire, and even the most focused driver may not see the hazard. Although a puncture wound may get noticed right away by the driver in a dramatically diminished tire performance, it often results in a slow leak, with the sharp object encased inside the tire, allowing air to slowly leak out.
  • Manufacturing defects. This is another unexpected cause of tire damage, but it happens and there are plenty of manufacturer tire recalls showing a history of this problem. There may be problems with the tire itself that could have come from the manufacturing floor or from the installer:  a poor seal where the tire attaches to the wheel, or a loose or improperly functioning valve. Both the poor seal and loose valve can create a slow leak.
  • Environmental causes. Temperature changes, which can swing wildly in autumn and spring days, impact tire pressure. In Mid-Atlantic states such as Maryland, drivers are accustomed to adjusting for temperature and seasonal change. Knowing that extreme heat and cold can take a toll on the air pressure in tires means that part of adjusting for the changing season needs to be checking air pressure in tires. If the tires are over- or underinflated, this can create a dangerous problem on the road.

Preventing Tire Blowouts

With so many potential road hazards and the fact that the weather can impact your air tire pressure, checking the tires regularly to see if the pressure is within appropriate levels helps drivers prevent a tire emergency on the road and provides peace of mind.

Here are some suggestions about maintaining proper air pressure in tires:

  • Follow the recommended air pressure. Manufacturer-recommended standards are printed out on a sticker in the jamb of the driver’s side door and the owner’s manual in the glove compartment.
  • Have a tire gauge in the car. These devices sell for about $10 at auto parts    stores and enable you to check tire pressure regularly. If you do not have one handy, most auto repair shops do, and you can ask to have your tire pressure checked.
  • Check tire pressure monthly. It might be helpful to check tire pressure at the first of the month so that it gets done on a regular basis. To get an accurate reading, the pressure should be checked when the tire is cold, which means at least three hours after driving or first thing in the morning.
  • Give the tire a bath if you suspect a leak. The time-tested method to determine a leak location is spraying the tire with soapy water; tire experts advise 20 percent detergent, as it is stickier. Watch for bubbles.

Towson Car Accident Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, Protect the Rights of Injured Victims

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, you need a legal advocate to help you navigate the laws of Maryland, which follow the contributory negligence guidelines. The experienced Towson car accident lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, will investigate your accident thoroughly and fight to hold the negligent party accountable. For more information and a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.

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