AAA ‘flat’ out busy responding to tire-related emergency roadside calls
AAA is urging motorists to pay attention to the two tire issues most likely to result in the need for emergency roadside service.
“In just the first few weeks of the year we have seen tire-related calls in Virginia that amount to almost 25 percent of the total volume for all of last winter – and we still have almost two months to go,” says Kevin Harris, Supervisor for AAA Emergency Roadside Service in Richmond. “Drivers must make sure their tires are properly inflated and that they have sufficient tread to grip wet or snow-covered roads.”
At this time, AAA is seeing tire-related call volume nearing what it was pre-pandemic so drivers are being encouraged to pay attention to their tires – or pay a price.
“Neglecting basic vehicle maintenance, such as rotating tires, has been far too common throughout the pandemic, resulting in more wear and tear – and additional expense, ” says Daniel Braithwaite, manager of the AAA Car Care Center at Swift Creek. “Routines may have changed but routine car care is still critical.”
In addition to calling attention to tire maintenance, AAA is also advising drivers to ensure they have a spare tire.
“More and more drivers are calling AAA for roadside assistance in recent years for tire-related issues are discovering that – to their surprise – they don’t have a spare tire in their vehicles,” says Morgan Dean, public and government affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
As automakers strive to reduce weight and improve fuel economy, they continue to eliminate spare tires from new vehicles. According to AAA, nearly one‐third (28 percent) of 2017 model year vehicles do not come with a spare tire as standard equipment, creating an unnecessary hassle and expense for drivers.
In 2021, AAA Mid-Atlantic came to the rescue of nearly 55,000 members faced with a tire-related issue in Virginia. More than 15 percent of those calls were for a flat tire without a usable spare.
Tires that have not been properly inflated to adjust for colder temperatures are more likely to result in a flat or blowout and tires with a worn tread are more likely to result in a crash. The good news, though, is that both of these tire troubles are easy to resolve.
Check tire pressure
Keeping your vehicle’s tires properly inflated to the automaker’s recommended pressures is a critical element of tire maintenance. Tires that contain the specified amount of air pressure last longer and contribute to vehicle safety.
- Check tire inflation pressure on all four tires and the spare.
- As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures – typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The proper tire pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jamb (Do not use the pressure molded into the tire sidewall).
Check tire tread
Adequate tread depth is necessary for a tire to maintain traction on slippery roads. You can measure tread depth with an inexpensive gauge available at any auto parts store.
Insert a quarter into a tread groove with the top of Washington’s head facing down. If the top of his head is not visible, your tires are fine for continued use. If you can see above the top of Washington’s head, it is time to start shopping for new tires. Take multiple measurements across the tread to help ensure accurate results.
- Winter storms, bad weather and sloppy road conditions are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
- Previous AAA research indicates that driving on worn tires at highway speeds increase stopping distance by a staggering 43 percent compared to new tires, putting drivers, and their passengers, at increased risk.
- AAA urges drivers to check tread depth, replace tires proactively, and increase following distances significantly when roadways are wet or snow-covered.