WASHINGTON—Only 17 percent of U.S. drivers are "tire smart" in that they know how to check a tire's inflation properly, according to the latest national survey by the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
There's also a major gender and generation gap in "tire smartness," the RMA said in a press release announcing the 12th annual National Tire Safety Week, June 2-8.
Twenty percent of male drivers, versus 14 percent of female drivers, know to check tire pressure at least once a month, use the inflation pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer rather than the number on the sidewall, and to check pressure when the tires haven't been driven for at least three hours, the RMA said.
The gap is even more pronounced among older vs. younger drivers, according to the association. Twenty-seven percent of drivers 60 or older are "tire smart," as opposed to 8 percent of drivers 18-39, it said.
Added to this, two-thirds of drivers never check inflation in their spare tires, and 52 percent don't know how to check if their tires are bald, according to the RMA. To check tire treadwear, stick an upside-down penny into the tread. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, the tire has inadequate tread depth and should be replaced.
Tires also have "wear bars" at 2/32-inch tread depth, so if you see those bars, it's time to replace the tire, the RMA said.
National Tire Safety Week is the annual focal point of the RMA's ongoing "Be Tire Smart—Play Your PART" program. PART is an acronym for Pressure, Alignment, Rotation and Tread.
This year the RMA is doing media outreach for National Tire Safety Week in a variety of cities, as well as other media events.