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Neglected tires adding to safety concerns for drivers on Colorado's roadways

Tire shops say people put off replacing tires and maintenance during pandemic
Neglected tires adding to safety concerns for drivers on Colorado's roadways
Posted at 5:06 AM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 18:19:23-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Buying new tires can be an expensive purchase that many of us will put off, but when weather conditions create traffic challenges not having safe tires often becomes a real problem. News5 takes a look at why the condition of our tires is something we should be thinking about.

Tire shops I talked to admit buying tires is not a cheap purchase for many of their customers, but the mistake of waiting too long to replace bad tires is something they are seeing more often as people have put off tire maintenance during the pandemic. With the cost of grocery lists and utility bills on the rise these can be tough financial decisions.

With more people driving on aging and worn tires it is a safety concern not just for the drivers themselves, but also other people on the roads. Researchers also note there was a rise in tire problems for drivers during a weather impacted commute.

News5 spoke with Rex Tire in Colorado Springs to get a closer look at the kind of tires people are driving on right now.

"So this tire is worn out. It came off this car. Maybe the customer didn't have the money to buy tires yet, or they were waiting until the last possible minute, but this tire is obviously unsafe and worn out," said Rex Tire President Brian Kleek as he showed us some of the tires that have him concerned. "There is also nails in this tire so it's probably not holding air properly, so this person definitely needed to get some tires on their car months ago before they got down to the ware bars on this tire here."

The Colorado Department of Transportation says if you're driving 60 miles per hour on snowy pavement you'll have much different results in how fast you can stop based on the kind of tires you have.

No matter what kind of tires you have, making sure they are aired up properly can be a challenge in the changing temperatures of Colorado.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research, only 19% of consumers properly inflate their tires.

Under-inflated tires impact handling, makes for longer stopping distances, and puts increased stress on tires.

Properly inflated tires not only makes the car safer, but provides better gas mileage and can extend the average life of a tire by 4,700 miles.

To help you determine how much air your tires need, you can find this label inside your door on vehicles year 2006 and newer.

Experts say driving on low air tires won't help you in the snow.

"It was designed to have that air pressure in it. I don't think running less air pressure gives you any advantage in the ice and snow. One thing I always tell customers is if you have a tire that's flattened out you have you have a little bit wider profile, if you have something narrower it goes through the snow a bit better. It's like, are you going to use a rolling pin to cut a pizza or a pizza cutter," said Kleek.

Making sure your tire tread it is up to standards is part of the traction law in Colorado.

The standard is 1/8-inch tread. If you use a quarter to test it the tread should cover up Washington's head.

Driving with the hills, snow, and ice here in Colorado is hard enough, so when you get a chance try to evaluate your tires and see if you need to take action to stay safe.

Tires are recalled sometimes as well. You can check on your tires and get resources to help you make safe decisions by visiting these websites:

https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/tires

https://www.codot.gov/travel/winter-driving/tires

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