How Tire Maintenance Can Help Avoid Car Accidents  - Hensley Legal Group, PC

How Tire Maintenance Can Help Avoid Car Accidents 

The average car is made up of about 30,000 parts.  If each of these parts is not in working order, a car could experience a loss of performance or even break down altogether.  And should that breakdown take place while the vehicle is in motion, a car accident could be inevitable.  Routine vehicle maintenance is […]

May 29, 2024

The average car is made up of about 30,000 parts.  If each of these parts is not in working order, a car could experience a loss of performance or even break down altogether.  And should that breakdown take place while the vehicle is in motion, a car accident could be inevitable. 

Routine vehicle maintenance is key to ensuring that small issues can be found and repaired before they grow into huge problems.  A comprehensive servicing regimen would likely feature engine, brake, suspension, battery, fuel line, and car body maintenance, along with maintenance of the vehicle’s tires.  Tire failure is linked to approximately 11,000 collisions in the United States each year – many of which could be prevented with basic tire upkeep.  Join us as we explore how tire maintenance can help avoid car accidents. 

How Tire Failure Can Cause Car Accidents 

Before looking at the role of tire maintenance in minimizing car accidents, we need to understand the role that tire failure plays in causing them.  As the number one tire manufacturer in the world has been pointing out for decades, so much is riding on your tires, which are the only parts of a car in direct contact with the street.  Quite literally, tires are where the rubber meets the road, and when they fail, disaster can follow. 

Practically all motor vehicles run on pneumatic tires, which contain pressurized air and are chiefly composed of rubber, fabric, and wire.  Tires wear down gradually over time but are generally said to fail when they can no longer hold the air inside of them, resulting in either flat tires or tire blowouts, which are distinguished by their suddenness and their severity.  (In certain instances, tires could become separated from the cars to which they have been secured, a rare though potentially dire problem that will be discussed below.) 

Whereas the air in a flat tire is lost gradually over time secondary to a puncture, a tire blowout is instantaneous in nature, resembling an explosion and accompanied by a loud boom in which the air is released all at once.  While a flat tire can be temporarily patched up or even permanently fixed if the puncture is centrally located, a blowout usually damages a tire beyond repair, often shredding it into fragments that can scatter across the asphalt or be propelled into the air at high speeds.  Finally, though most flat tires occur when vehicles are at rest, tire blowouts typically occur when vehicles are being driven.   

For this reason, tire blowouts are the leading cause of tire-related car accidents.  In most of these incidents, a driver will lose control of a car in the immediate aftermath of an unexpected blowout.  The car could then skid, swerve, or spin, possibly veering off the road, crashing into other vehicles, or rolling over.  The subsequent injuries in a tire failure accident can be extreme, even fatal, resulting in 662 deaths nationwide in 2021 alone. 

Fortunately, tire failure does not automatically have to end in a car accident.  If you suffer a tire blowout, you can avert a collision by remaining calm, removing your foot from the accelerator to slow down gradually (rather than slamming on the brakes, which could make them lock up), turning on your emergency lights to alert other motorists, steering towards the shoulder, and pulling over when you are able to do so. 

Keeping your cool can keep a bad situation from becoming worse, though it would be far better to keep tire blowouts and other forms of tire failure from happening at all.  This is where tire maintenance can make all the difference.   

What Does Tire Maintenance Mean? 

What exactly do we mean by tire maintenance?  At heart, tire maintenance is about putting in the effort to get the maximum use out of your tires, permitting them to achieve peak functionality while they are still capable of doing so and exercising sound judgment in retiring them when they cease to serve their purpose. 

The core elements of tire maintenance are inspection, inflation, rotation, repair, and replacement, each of which we will now examine in greater detail. 

Tire Inspection  

Outside of totally flat tires, most tire problems may not be obvious at a glance.  Consequently, you may need to personally inspect your tires for damage on a regular basis and have a professional inspect them at least once a year. 

Tire problems that could be uncovered during an inspection may include: 

  • Tread separation – Individual grooved treads could come off of the body or casing of the tire.  Tread separation could obliterate a car’s traction and hasten a tire blowout. 
  • Tread belt separation – Similarly, the entire belt of treads could separate from the tire casing with a corresponding decline in traction. 
  • Uneven treads – Not all tires wear down at the same rate, thanks to misalignment and other deficiencies.  An overly worn tire may be carrying a disproportionate share of the car’s mass and could buckle under the strain. 
  • Poorly repaired punctures – If an earlier puncture has not been fully repaired, the tire could go on to lose more air or blow out. 
  • Mounting errors – Tires that are mounted in the wrong direction or not firmly attached to the car may be at risk of falling off, which could precipitate a catastrophic vehicular collapse. 
  • Mismatching – Cars must only be equipped with tires that are the appropriate size and model for them, since a tire that cannot support a car’s weight could blow out or even snap off. 

Some of the above problems could be readily apparent.  Others may only be unearthed by more painstaking methods of inspection, though you should keep an eye out for visible deformities that may be associated with larger complications, such as: 

  • Uneven wear 
  • Balding
  • Blisters and bulges
  • Sidewall cuts and cracks 
  • Perforations 
  • Vibration while driving 

These and other problems could indicate defects in the design or manufacture of the tires, while still others could indicate underlying concerns with the car itself, which must be rectified both for the good of the tires and for the good of anyone who may be riding inside the vehicle. 

Tire Inflation 

Depending upon what has been uncovered, some tires may need to be replaced, though others could be remedied with less drastic interventions, such as tire repair, rotation, or inflation. 

Assuming your tires have passed inspection, you should now check the air pressure on each one of them and reinflate them to the correct levels.  Every new tire sold comes with the manufacturer’s recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) level printed on the sidewall near the bead (the section where the rubber reaches the rim).   

Because an overinflated tire could be in danger of a flat or a blowout, it is important not to exceed the maximum PSI when filling a tire up, though it may be even more important to make sure that a tire’s pressure never falls too far beneath this level.  As counterintuitive as it may seem, underinflation is the top factor in tire failure, contributing to about 80 percent of tire blowouts.  The sidewalls of an underinflated tire may end up pressing against the road, where the friction could generate added heat and expand the air inside of the tire until it blows out. 

In contrast, maintaining the appropriate air pressure will keep your tires performing optimally for the majority of their duration, so it is crucial to reinflate them to the prescribed levels.  

Tire Rotation 

If your tires display uneven wear but are essentially intact, all that may be needed is a rearrangement of the tires from one position on the car to another, also known as tire rotation, a process that should be conducted by a qualified auto mechanic if it is to be successful.   

Additionally, a mechanic could advise you on how frequently you should rotate your tires going forward.  While it is regarded as best practice to rotate a car’s tires every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, an earlier rotation may sometimes be necessary.  

Tire Repair 

If your tires have tiny punctures and perforations, a tire repair may be a sufficient way to keep them going for many more miles to come.    

For a tire repair to be effective, you should always: 

  • Remove the tire from the wheel so that the problem can be adequately diagnosed and repaired accordingly. 
  • Install a precured rubber stem that can be vulcanized to the tire and seal out any moisture. 
  • Use a repair unit to reinforce and seal the liner. 

You may have encountered a variety of patch-only and plug-only repair kits promoted or sold online, but you should be aware that these products do not meet the industry standards for suitable tire repair.  Whatever savings in time and convenience they purport to offer will be trivial in comparison to the headaches brought on by an erroneous repair job. 

Tire Replacement 

If the tire problems that you have discovered are too fundamental to be addressed by inflation, rotation, or repair, you many need to replace the tires, something that must eventually be done even with the most attentive care.  The reality is that tires only last around six years or between 36,000 and 75,000 miles, depending upon usage, climate, and maintenance, though it is not wise to ride on tires until the very end. 

No matter when you need to replace your tires, it is vital that you select the right ones for your car because even perfectly conceived and manufactured tires could fail if they are applied to the wrong vehicle.  (Consult your vehicle’s owner manual, your mechanic, or your car or tire dealer for more advice.)  Once the tires have been installed, please follow the official guidelines for how much they can be inflated, how much weight they can bear, and how fast they can be driven.   

What to Do After a Tire-Related Car Accident 

By applying some simple tire maintenance tips and a little common sense, you can do a whole lot to increase the longevity of your tires.  Sadly, you can only control what you choose to do.  Even if you take every one of these precautions, others who share the road with you may be far less prudent.  And when one of them has a tire-related car accident, you might become one of the victims. 

If that should happen, there are steps that you could take to protect yourself and any car accident case that you might have, including the following: 

  • Move to a safe location – You could get into another accident if you remain in traffic for too long, so move to a safe location before attempting to do anything else. 
  • Notify the authorities – If police and emergency personnel have not yet arrived, dial 911 to notify them about the accident and request their presence.  Because an inaccurate police report could create problems for you at a later date, be sure to give the responding officers a complete version of events and direct them towards any signs of tire failure that you may have noticed. 
  • Seek medical attention – Your health should be your priority, so seek medical attention promptly, ideally from paramedics at the scene or at the nearest emergency room.  Any delays in treatment could hinder your recovery and cast doubt on the causal relationship between your injuries and the tire-related car accident. 
  • Take pictures and shoot videos – Use your phone to take pictures and shoot videos of your surroundings because a contemporary visual record of the crash site could be invaluable in assessing liability and documenting your losses. 
  • Obtain driver and witness information – You may not have a case at all if you cannot find the defendants.  With this in mind, you should obtain pertinent information from the drivers involved, such as: 
  • Name 
  • Address 
  • Phone number 
  • Email 
  • Insurance company and policy number 
  • Driver’s license 
  • License plate 
  • Vehicle year, make, and model 

Witnesses can provide independent confirmation of what transpired, so don’t forget to ask for the names and numbers of anyone else who saw the accident. 

  • Inform your auto insurance company – Let your insurance company know about the car accident as soon as you can.  Doing so could allow you to remain in compliance with the terms of your policy and access some of its benefits, such as reimbursement for doctor visits, towing, rentals, and repairs. 
  • Ignore other insurance carriers – However, you should probably ignore the insurance carriers for the other parties if they attempt to contact you.  The insurance adjuster may seem friendly, but even the most innocuous comment you make could be used against you.  Instead, you should…
  • Speak to an attorney – A seasoned car accident lawyer can analyze the circumstances leading up to your accident and determine whether you have grounds for a case. 

What a Car Accident Attorney Can Do for You 

Nothing can every truly prepare you for a serious car accident, which could overwhelm you with mounting medical bills and out-of-pocket costs and rob you of your ability to go to work.  It can be hard to know what to do or where to turn, particularly if you have not incurred a significant personal injury before.  To overcome the challenges that they may face, many plaintiffs decide to retain the services of skilled legal practitioners, such as the accomplished car accident lawyers at Hensley Legal Group, who have been getting justice for the wrongfully injured since 1998.   

A car accident attorney can launch an exhaustive investigation into the causes of your tire-related car accident and everyone who may be at fault for it, which may include the car’s driver and/or its owner, outside mechanics, and the manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of any defective components, among others.  These parties should be identified and the evidence against them should be amassed within the time allotted by law. 

Your lawyer will then endeavor to negotiate a settlement that reflects all of your losses, such as: 

  • Past, present, and future medical expenses 
  • Lost wages 
  • Diminished earning capacity  
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Mental and emotional trauma
  • Permanent impairment 
  • Reduced quality of living 
  • Loss of consortium 
  • Punitive and wrongful death damages (if applicable) 

While most car accident claims can be resolved prior to trial, a car accident attorney will be indispensable if your case needs to go to court, where personal injury plaintiffs who represent themselves only prevail about four percent of the time.  On the other hand, plaintiffs who have lawyers are statistically favored to win at trial, which could get them the resources to get their lives back to normal.  

A Brief Quiz 

We hope that this introduction to the fundamentals of tire maintenance has been useful.  If you would like to test yourself on what you have learned, please take this brief quiz.  (The answers are available at the bottom of this article.*) 

Q1: The top factor in tire failure is: 

  1. Overinflation. 
  1. Underinflation. 
  1. Rotation. 
  1. Vulcanization. 

Q2: If you suffer a tire blowout, you should:  

  1. Turn off the ignition. 
  1. Slam on the brakes. 
  1. Take your foot off the accelerator. 
  1. Steer towards the median. 

Q3: Which of the following is not considered proper tire maintenance? 

  1. Have your tires professionally inspected at least once a year. 
  1. Inflate your tires according to the manufacturer-recommended PSI levels. 
  1. Avoid patch-only and plug-only repair kits. 
  1. Rotate your tires only after you have driven on them at least 5,000 miles. 

 Q4: A pneumatic tire primarily contains pressurized: 

  1. Air. 
  1. Water. 
  1. Silicone. 
  1. Lithium. 

Standing Up for the Everyday People of Indiana 

If a car accident has left you struggling to make ends meet, consider following the lead of so many others before you and get in touch with the Indiana car accident lawyers at Hensley Legal Group, who have been standing up for the everyday people of Indiana for more than 25 years. 

You can schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Indiana car accident attorney by calling or texting us at (317) 472-3333, chatting with us online, or filling out our contact form today. 

*Answers: Q1b; Q2c; Q3 – d; Q4 a.