Tire safety and maintenance for passenger vehicles and light trucks

Protection against avoidable breakdowns and crashes, improved vehicle handling, better fuel economy, and increased tire life are reasons drivers should frequently maintain a vehicle's tires.

Tire safety action plan

  • Check the vehicle’s tire information placard, which is a permanent label that is attached to the vehicle’s driver-side door edge or doorpost, glove-box door, inside of the trunk lid, or the owner’s manual for the maximum load and recommended tire pressure(s). In some vehicles, the recommended front and rear tire inflation pressures may be different.
  • Do not overload the vehicle and, if towing a trailer, remember that some of the weight of the loaded trailer is transferred to the towing vehicle’s tires.
  • Because tires may naturally lose air over time and pressure will change with ambient temperature [i.e., approximately one pound per square inch (7 kPa) change for every 10°F (12°C) temperature change], check tire pressure at least once each month, including the spare tire and before going on a long trip, when the tires are cold (i.e., the vehicle has been parked for at least three hours).
  • Inspect tires for uneven wear patterns on the tread, cracks, foreign objects, or other signs of wear or trauma. Remove foreign objects wedged in the tread.
  • Make sure the tire valves have valve caps.
  • Slow down if you must go over a pothole or other object in the road.
  • Do not run over curbs and try not to strike the curb when parking.

Checking tire pressure

  • Determine the recommended cold tire inflation pressure(s), and check tires with a tire gauge.
  • If the tire pressure is too high in any of the tires, slowly release air by gently pressing on the tire valve stem with your tire gauge or by using the pressure release on your tire gauge, until you get to the desired pressure.
  • If the tire pressure is too low in a tire, note the difference between the measured tire pressure and the correct tire pressure. The missing air is what you will need to add when you get to an air pump.
  • When you reach an air pump, measure the tire pressure again on each underinflated tire and add the missing air pressure you noted when the tire was cold. Remember that tire inflation increases as you drive, so it will be different from when you initially checked the cold pressure.

Checking tire tread depth

Tires have built-in treadwear indicators that let you know when it is time to replace your tires. These indicators are normally invisible, but appear when treads have been worn down to 2/32 of an inch (1.6 mm) of the depth of the tire tread. If these indicators appear in two or more places, it is time to replace your tires. Another method for checking tread depth is to place a United States penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down, facing the observer. If the top of Lincoln’s head can be seen, it is time to replace the tires.

Replacing tires

While it is preferable to change all tires at the same time, two tires on the same axle can be replaced. The new tires should be installed on the rear axle, regardless of whether the vehicle is front or rear-wheel drive. This will help alleviate rear-end spinout in wet driving conditions.


Copyright ©2015, ISO Services, Inc.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries ("The Hanover") specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with The Hanover. By providing this information to you, The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

LC FEB 2019-096
171-1163 (12/18)