Q: How important is routine tire maintenance? What can I do to prevent a tire from causing an accident?
Anyone who has ever seen The Flintstones can attest to how painful it would be to have to walk your car to work. However, although we can all admit that the coarseness of the road and the weight of the vehicle would wreak havoc on Fred and Barney’s feet, many of us fail to make the same correlation when it comes to our vehicle’s tires.
Many drivers take their tires for granted and don’t think about how vital tire maintenance is to their own safety. The truth is, without a set of good tires on your vehicle, you’re prone to slipping, skidding, blowouts, and other problems that can cause dangerous accidents. Tires are expensive and vital to the well-being of your vehicle, so it makes sense to do what you can to keep them in good shape for as long as possible. If you don’t, you could end up causing or suffering catastrophic injuries.
When a Tire Blowout Causes a Traffic Accident
Tire blowout accidents can be both catastrophic and complicated due to the amount of damage they can inflict as well as confusion about liability: the driver may be at fault, the tire manufacturer may be liable, or other parties could be involved as well. In order to pursue a claim, you must be able to establish liability, which is why your attorney will investigate what exactly caused the blowout.
Generally speaking, most tires blow out either because car owners have not properly maintained then or because the tires were defective. In the former case, the driver or owner of the vehicle may be at fault for failure to maintain the tires; in the latter case, the manufacturer is at fault. Specific causes for a blowout may be one of the following:
- Poor maintenance. The tire’s treads, sidewalls, and body plies can only withstand so much friction before they become worn out. When proper upkeep isn’t properly kept the tire can deteriorate, making it impossible to contain the air pressure within it—thus leading to a blowout.
- External damage. When a tire repeatedly hits potholes (or hits one big pothole), or when tire is punctured by a sharp object, the air inside the tire can escape through that puncture at a rapid rate, causing the puncture to expand explosively.
- Excessive weight. Tires can only withstand so much pressure before they pop. Think of them as a balloon filled with air—if you squeeze the balloon hard enough or put too much weight on it, then it’ll explode. Therefore, if the tires are straining under too much weight, they too may buckle and pop.
- Pressure change. When the outside temperature is extremely hot—common enough here in Texas—it can cause the air inside the tires to expand. This expansion will add pressure to the tire walls and could cause them to blow.
- Improper inflation. Overinflated tires put too much pressure on the inside of the tire (think about what happens when you overinflate a balloon). Underinflated tires cause too much of the tire to come in contact with the road, increasing friction and risk of wear and tear—and friction can rip a hole in the tire.
- Internal defects. Errors in design that compromised the integrity of the tire may have occurred during manufacturing. Occasionally check for potential recalls of your tire brand and if you know what type of tires the other person in the accident had, do a quick search to see if those tires had a recent recall or if there are already known defects.
Motoring in Safety
A regular tire maintenance routine can drastically reduce your risks of suffering a catastrophic blowout. The next time you perform your quarterly car check, make sure you include a thorough examination of your tires by completing the following checklist:
- Assess alignment. Hitting a pothole or rolling over something else that causes a jolt can force a misalignment of your vehicle’s suspension. A front end that is not aligned can cause damage to your tires. Check the alignment frequently and have it adjusted to keep your ride smooth.
- Rotate tires to the right. Rotating your tires every 5,000 miles can prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your wheels. Failing to do so can cause the tread on the tires to not be uniform, which increases the chances of accidents. In order to keep track of what tires have been where, place a mark on the right-forward tire and always rotate to the right. Once the marked tire returns to its original location, check the wear pattern—you may want to consider buying replacements.
- Preserve proper pressure. Tires work best when they are kept inflated to the proper levels. Over time, air escapes the tires, causing more of the tire to contact the road and increase friction. Continuing to drive on tires with the wrong air pressure can lead to loss of control, irregular wear, and tire stress. Check the inflation on your tires frequently and fill them up to the proper level to stay safe.
Getting Back on Track
When you’re injured in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence, it isn’t fair that you are held responsible for the ensuing medical costs. Regrettably, if you’re left fighting the insurance company alone, this is most likely what will end up happening. Attorney Steve Lee wants to help you recover the compensation and peace of mind your injuries require. Fill out our online form to get the help you want in determining fault and filing a claim, while also getting the support and guidance you need to get your life back on track. Contact us today and see where our experience and drive can take you.