Because safety is our top priority, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation want to make sure you have the tools to avoid being in vehicle crashes.
TireWise is your resource to help you make smart decisions to keep you and your family safe, whether you’re in the market to buy new tires or want to extend the life and safety of the ones on your car or truck.
Being TireWise (PDF, 341.5 KB) is essential to safe driving. The only thing between you and the road are your tires. TireWise provides drivers with information about buying tires, tire maintenance and labeling, aging, fuel efficiency, and tire retailers. TireWise is also a resource for tire manufacturers, sellers and other partners to provide essential information to consumers for choosing and caring for their tires.
Important Tire Safety Information: Tire Recalls and Complaints
Tire Buyer’s FAQ -- What You Should Know And Ask
The next time you’re in the market to buy tires, be sure to print out these Tire Buyers’ FAQ (PDF, 250 KB) to equip yourself with key purchasing information about tires. Once you’ve selected the right tires for you and your vehicle, our handbook Congratulations on Your New Tire Purchase (PDF, 269 KB) can help you locate and record important information that you’ll need throughout the service life of your new tires.
What type of tire should I buy?
This will vary by where you live and the typical weather you drive in.
How are tires rated? What does the tire rating mean?
Many tires are rated by the U.S. Government on treadwear, traction performance and temperature resistance. It’s called the Uniform Tire Quality Grading Standards (UTQGS) (PDF 4.51 MB), and the tire ratings are on the sidewall of every passenger vehicle tire sold in the United States.
Treadwear grades are an indication of a tire’s relative wear rate. The higher the treadwear number is, the longer it should take for the tread to wear down.
A control tire is assigned a grade of 100. Other tires are compared to the control tire. For example, a tire grade of 200 should wear twice as long as the control tire.
Of current tires:
Traction grades are an indication of a tire’s ability to stop on wet pavement. A higher graded tire should allow a car to stop on wet roads in a shorter distance than a tire with a lower grade. Traction is graded from highest to lowest as "AA", "A", "B", and "C".
Of current tires:
Temperature grades are an indication of a tire’s resistance to heat. Sustained high temperature (for example, driving long distances in hot weather), can cause a tire to deteriorate, leading to blowouts and tread separation. From highest to lowest, a tire’s resistance to heat is graded as "A", "B", or "C".
Of current tires:
Check your owner’s manual or the Tire and Loading Information Label located on the driver’s side door edge or post to find the correct size for your car or truck.
How well do you take care of your tires? Do you keep them properly inflated? Do you check if they’re worn? How much do you know about basic tire maintenance and its impact on safety and fuel consumption? If you care about your safety, and about saving money, it’s important to understand how tires affect your vehicle’s performance.
Stay safe by taking care of your tires
Save money by taking care of your tires
1. Tire Pressure
Proper tire pressure is the most important part of maintaining your tires. It affects safety, their durability, and your fuel consumption.
2. Tire Tread
Tire tread provides the gripping action and traction that prevents your car or truck from slipping and sliding, especially when the road is icy or wet. Tires are not safe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch.
3. Balance and Alignment
Having your tires balanced and a wheel alignment performed by a qualified technician is important for the safety of your vehicle and to maximize the life of your tires.
4. Tire Rotation
5. Tire Size To maintain tire safety, purchase new tires that are the same size as the vehicle’s original tires or another size recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Check your owner’s manual or the Tire and Loading Information Label located on the driver’s side door edge or post to find the correct size for your car or truck. If you have any doubt about the correct size to choose, consult with the tire dealer. They can find the correct size tire for your vehicle.
Follow these tire pressure steps—they’re the most important part of maintaining your tires:
The vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire inflation pressure is the proper psi (pounds per square inch) or kPa (kilopascals–the metric measure used internationally) when a tire is cold, meaning it has not been driven on for at least three hours. To get an accurate tire pressure reading, you must measure tire pressure when the tires are cold or compensate for the extra pressure in warm tires.
If you have been driving your vehicle and think a tire is underinflated, fill it to the recommended cold inflation pressure indicated on your vehicle’s tire information placard or certification label. While your tire may still be slightly underinflated due to the extra pressure of a warm tire, it is safer to drive with air pressure that is slightly lower than the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended cold inflation pressure than to drive with a significantly underinflated tire.
Since this is a temporary fix, don’t forget to recheck and adjust the tire’s pressure when you can obtain a cold reading.
A tire blowout is a rapid loss of tire air pressure that can cause your vehicle to lose control. Although maintaining proper tire pressure can help you avoid blowouts, it’s not always possible. Here are some tips to help you stay safe in the event of a blowout.
The goal in any blowout is to keep the vehicle balanced and controllable. Do not panic. Any overreaction – including slamming on the brakes or abruptly removing your foot from the accelerator – can result in a loss of control over the vehicle. Instead, you should take the following steps:
No matter which tire blows out–front or back–the steps for safely maintaining control of your vehicle are the same. The difference is in how you will feel it. In a front tire blowout, you will feel the force more in the vehicle’s steering. In a rear blowout, you will feel it more in the seat or body of the vehicle.
How does the Tire Pressure Monitoring System work?
Tire pressure monitoring systems continuously monitor the pressure in the tires through sensors located in the tires (direct system) or the use of wheel speed and other vehicle sensors (indirect system). The information collected by the sensors is transmitted to an on-board processor that interprets the sensor signals and warns the driver when tire pressure is below the minimum acceptable level by illuminating the TPMS symbol on your dashboard.
Does my vehicle have TPMS?
All passenger cars, light trucks and vans that are model year 2008 or newer are required to come equipped with this feature. Some model year 2006 and 2007 vehicles are also equipped with TPMS. If you own a model year 2006 or 2007 vehicle, check with your dealer or your owner’s manual to determine if it comes equipped with TPMS.
What does the TPMS symbol look like?
There are two different low tire pressure warning indicators allowed by the Federal standard. One icon is the cross-section of a tire with an exclamation mark inside. The other is a top view of a car with all four tires exposed. No matter which TPMS symbol your vehicle has, it will illuminate on the vehicle dashboard when your tire pressure is significantly under inflated
.What does it mean if the TPMS symbol illiminates?
When the TPMS symbol appears on your dashboard, it means at least one of your tires is significantly underinflated. You should inspect your tires and check the tire pressure as soon as possible. The symbol will extinguish after the tires are properly inflated.
What does it mean if the TPMS symbol goes on and off?
On cold mornings, the TPMS symbol may illuminate for a short period of time and then turn off. This is likely caused by marginally low tire pressure that dips below the warning threshold overnight but rises to an acceptable level as the tires heat up through vehicle operation or an increase in external temperatures. If the TPMS symbol goes on and off, you should inspect your tires and check your tire pressure. The lamp should not illuminate when the tires are properly inflated.
What does it mean if the warning lamp flashes on and off and then remains illiminated?
All TPMS installed on 2008 model year vehicles and beyond are required to detect and warn the driver when the system is not functioning properly. A system malfunction may be indicated by a flashing of the TPMS symbol for 60 to 90 seconds with the warning lamp remaining illuminated after the flashing sequence. The flashing sequence followed by continuous illumination of the warning lamp will repeat at each subsequent vehicle start-up until the malfunction is corrected. You should contact your vehicle dealer for a system inspection.
If the TPMS symbol is on, wouldn’t I have already noticed that my tires are underinflated?
Underinflated tires are visually difficult to detect. It is recommended that you inspect tires monthly with an accurate gauge. The TPMS is not intended to be a substitute for regular tire maintenance.
Most vehicle owners can easily overlook tire aging, increasing their risk of a crash. These Q&As will help you understand tire aging, how to extend the service life of your tires, and when to replace your tires.
What is tire aging?
Tire aging occurs when the rubber and other components in a tire change over time due to service, storage, and environmental conditions.
Am I at risk?
Most of us drive our vehicles enough that the tires’ treads wear out, and we replace our tires before aging becomes an issue. However, if you own or use recreational vehicles, 15–passenger vans, collector cars, any other vehicles you don’t drive regularly, or if your annual mileage is low, you could be at risk. In addition to infrequent use, exposure to sunlight and warmer climate, poor storage and poor maintenance also contribute to tire aging. Tire aging is a greater concern in the more southern parts of the Sun Belt states.
What can I do?
You cannot detect tire aging simply by looking at your tires. However, there are steps you can take to extend the service life of your tires.
Should I replace my tires?
Spare tires on all vehicles are prone to aging because they seldom get replaced. Taking into account that tires degrade over time, NHTSA recommends that if your vehicle comes equipped with a full size spare tire, that it not be used as a replacement for worn tires, except in emergencies such as replacing a flat tire.
There’s a ton of information on your tires that tells you about how they work with your vehicle to affect its performance. Understanding the tire labels for your passenger vehicle or light truck is important for maintaining and buying new tires. If labels could talk, here’s what they’d say:
Click here or image below to find out various information on a passenger vehicle tire such as:
The tires you buy and how well you maintain them can significantly affect how much money you spend on fuel, as well as your vehicle’s impact on the environment. Being an informed consumer and properly maintaining your tires means you can be green–and get more "green" in your wallet by reducing your vehicle emissions.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for keeping people safe on America’s roadways.