Study Confirms Goodyear Statistics
Government Study Confirms Goodyear Statistics
AKRON, Ohio, Aug. 29 Goodyear engineers today said a government study that shows widespread tire neglect among American motorists confirms the tiremaker's research. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study released today revealed that about a third of the light trucks and a quarter of the cars on U.S. roads have at least one substantially underinflated tire. Bill Egan, chief engineer of advanced product design for Goodyear, said, "We're not surprised by NHTSA's findings. Despite all the media attention about government and industry warnings, people still are not keeping their tires inflated to recommended levels." Low inflation pressure creates excessive heat and stress on the tire. Running a tire 20 percent underinflated -- only 4 to 5 pounds per square inch low -- robs fuel economy by a whopping 10 percent. Tread life is reduced by 15 percent, Egan said. NHTSA's survey reflects a continual tire maintenance problem. In the 1970s, NHTSA claimed that half of the nation's cars had underinflated tires. Goodyear conducted its own parking lot survey in the 1990s, sampling 250 vehicles or 1,000 tires. More than 28 percent of the vehicles had one or more low-on-air tires. Goodyear recommends that tire inflation be checked weekly or before a long trip. "Too often, motorists are instructed to inflate their tires to the proper pressure, without a clear definition of what's proper," Egan said. "Also, some service stations and quick-service oil-change shops, which don't work specifically on tires, often get it wrong." According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 51 percent of American drivers check their own tire pressures. Unfortunately, 48 percent of those consult the tire sidewall, which indicates maximum tire pressure. "Correct tire inflation isn't a multiple-choice answer. Part of the problem is the answer may vary according to application and the load to be carried," Egan added. Tires should be inflated to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations printed on the vehicle door's placard or in the owner's manual. Among the 51 percent of Americans who check their own tire pressure, 86 percent use their own tire gauge, the AAA study indicated. The remainder practice far less reliable methods, such as the 13 percent who use a service station gauge, the 8 percent who simply look at the tire and the 3 percent who thump the tire with a tool. Barring the use of their own tire gauge, Egan said motorists may receive a free tire inspection and free air at their local Goodyear retailer. The NHTSA survey found that 27 percent of cars and 32 percent of vans, pickup trucks and SUVs had at least one tire underinflated. Eight percent of light trucks and 3 percent of cars had all four tires underinflated. To help combat this lack of tire maintenance, all vehicles made after November 2003 will have a pressure-monitoring system to warn drivers about low tire pressure under a rule being drafted by NHTSA. Egan said automakers and tiremakers are working together to increase system installations on new vehicles. Goodyear also is involved with other tire manufacturers, inflation- pressure sensor firms and governing bodies to implement run-flat tire performance guidelines and standards for the industry.