The Importance of Tire Safety
As any tire dealer knows, one of the most important (if not the most important) factors related to the safety of a vehicle is its tires. NHTSA now reports that over 700 people per year die on US roadways due to a tire defect. Damaged or defective tires carry a higher risk of causing a blowout, and blowouts can lead to traffic accidents, rollovers or worse. With Tire Registration Plus software, you can check the age and recall status of every tire before your customer leaves the shop.
The classic test of tire age and wear is the "penny test." That’s where you stick a penny into the tread of a tire upside-down to determine if it needs replacement—if Lincoln’s head does not disappear, the tire should be replaced. While this isn't necessarily a bad rule of thumb, it ignores many of the advanced aspects of tire aging and wear. For one thing, just because the tread depth is acceptable does not mean that the tire doesn't need to be replaced. Additionally, sometimes a vehicle manufacturer or a tire manufacturer will issue a recall on a tire and will mandate that it be replaced.
Tire Service Life
The actual service life of a tire depends less on its chronological age and more on its mileage, service history and storage conditions. The wear of a tire depends on the overall load it’s carrying (i.e., the weight of the car and its cargo), its inflation pressure, driving speeds and road conditions. Because of these variables, it is difficult to predict the actual service life of a tire.
The consensus standard in the industry is that tire manufacturers recommend replacing all tires that are 10 years or older than their production date assuming that they have been professionally inspected on an annual basis starting with the 5-year mark. Over time, components within the tire (mostly the rubber) will begin to degrade and you will note cracking on the tire’s surface. In worst-case scenarios, you will see the steel in the treads separating from the tire. When tires reach this level of wear, they can be extremely dangerous and likely to cause accidents. For this reason, it is very important to check the age of each tire when performing checkups and inspections. Knowing the age of your tire can be difficult—tires can be stored for months in warehouses before being installed on a vehicle, for example, and the aftermarket has a host of resellers that offer used tires to consumers. Most tires will need to be changed prior to the 10-year-recommended maximum age limit, including spare tires.
Tire Defects and Complaints
When your customer has a tire issue, chances are they will show up at your shop looking for answers. If your customer thinks there's a problem, they should stop driving immediately and have their tires inspected, and if an issue is found, it should be reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Capturing Tire Defect Information
If your customer needs to file a report, you'll want to make sure all of their relevant information is quickly accessible. You'll also need standard vehicle information, like the year, make/model and VIN. Its typically a good idea to make note of the following:
- Tire brand
- Tire line
- Tire size
- DOT number
- Component issue