Tires are designed and built with great care to provide thousands of miles of excellent service. But for maximum benefit, they must be maintained properly.

The most important factors in tire care are:

Proper Inflation Pressure
Proper Vehicle Loading
Regular Inspection
Good Driving Habits
Vehicle Conditions
The Tire Industry Safety Council recently placed a billboard in suburban Washington, DC extolling the importance of tire inflation.

The Benefits of Proper Inflation

Your Own Tire Pressure Gauge

Inflation Tips


Proper Vehicle Loading

With the right amount of air pressure, your tires wear longer, save fuel and help prevent accidents. The "right amount" of air is the pressure specified by the vehicle manufacturer for the front and rear tires on your particular model car or light truck.

The correct air pressure is shown on the tire placard (or sticker) attached to the vehicle door edge, door post, glove box door or fuel door. If your vehicle doesn't have a placard, check the owner's manual or consult with the vehicle manufacturer , tire manufacturer or your local tire dealer for the proper inflation.


The tire placard tells you the maximum vehicle load, the cold tire pressures and the tire size recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Typical placards are shown on this page. Your placard may be different.


Serious injury may result from:

Tire failure due to underinflation and/or overloading. Follow owner's manual or tire placard in vehicle.

Explosion of tire/rim assembly. Only specially trained persons should mount tires.

If you don't take proper care of your tires, the results can be serious. Most tire companies are either supplying a handbook or are molding a safety warning right onto the tire sidewall. Motorists are strongly advised to follow the vehicle owner's manual or the tire placard in the vehicle for proper inflation and loading.

Never try to mount your own tires. Only specially trained persons should mount or demount tires. An explosion of a tire and wheel assembly can result from improper or careless mounting procedures.

If you do mount your own tires, make sure you have the right equipment, the right training and the right information before proceeding. Always use a restraining device when mounting a tire on a rim, and be sure to stay back from the tire when inflating it. Make sure to follow the inflation instructions.

Contact the Tire Industry Safety Council at (202) 783-1022 or at, the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association at (202) 789-2300, or the Rubber Manufacturers Association at (202) 682-4800 for prop er mounting and demounting information. For information on federally mandated truck tire mounting procedures, contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at (202) 219-4667.



There is a danger of serious injury or death if a tire of one bead diameter is installed on a rim or wheel of a different rim diameter.

Always replace a tire with another tire of exactly the same bead diameter designation and suffix letters.

For example: A 16" tire goes on a 16" rim. Never mount a 16" tire on a 16.5" rim. A 16.5" tire goes on a 16.5" rim. Never mount a 16.5" tire on a 16" rim.

While it is possible to pass a 16" diameter tire over the lip or flanges of a 16.5" size diameter rim, it cannot be inflated enough to position itself against the rim flange. If an attempt is made to seat the tire bead by inflating, the tire bead will break with explosive force and could cause serious injury or death.

Remember, mounting and demounting tires and wheels should be left to skilled professionals who are aware of the safety hazards involved and who have the proper tools and equipment to do the job safely.



Tires must be properly inflated. Use an accurate tire pressure gauge to determine your tire pressure. You can't tell when tires are "low," or underinflated, just by looking. Air meters at service stations may be inaccurate due to exposure or abuse. You should have your own personal tire gauge to be sure.

Purchase an accurate tire gauge from your tire dealer, auto supply store or other retailer. You can also order one by mail as part of a consumer tire care kit offered by the Tire Industry Safety Council.

Check tire inflation pressure (including the spare) at least once a month and before every long trip. Tires must be checked when they are cold; that is, before they have been run a mile. If you must drive over one mile for air, before you leave home, measure the cold inflation pressure of each tire and record the actual underinflation amount for each tire.

Upon arriving at the service station, measure each tire's inflation again and then inflate the warm tire to a level that is equal to this warm pressure, plus the cold underinflation amount.


In this example, add 6 psi to the right rear tire to bring pressure up to match the other rear tire's warm reading. When the tire cools down, it should end up at the vehicle placard's recommended pressure.

Tires lose air normally through the process of permeation.

Changes in outdoor temperature can affect the rate at which your tire loses air. This change is more pronounced in hot weather. Generally speaking, a tire will lose one or two pounds of air per month in cool weather, and even more in warmer weather. Un derinflation is the leading cause of tire failure, so check inflation pressure regularly.

Never "bleed" or reduce air pressure when tires are hot. It is normal for pressures to build up as a result of driving.

Make sure all tire valves and extensions are equipped with valve caps with rubber gaskets to keep out dirt and moisture. Have a new valve stem assembly installed whenever a tire is replaced.

Underinflation or overloading creates excessive heat, and can lead to tire failure, which could result in vehicle damage and/or serious injury or death. Proper inflation extends tire life and saves fuel.

Maintain the inflation pressure listed in the vehicle owner's manual or on the tire placard.

In addition to showing the vehicle manufacturer's recommended cold inflation pressure, the tire placard also shows the maximum load of the vehicle. Do not overload your vehicle. Remember, baggage carried on top of any vehicle counts as additional load.

If you are towing a trailer, remember that some of the weight of the loaded trailer transfers to the towing vehicle. That reduces the load which can safely be placed in the towing vehicle. The only sure way to prevent overload is to weigh, axle by axle, the fully loaded vehicle on reliable platform scales.

Load and inflation information for popular auto tire sizes may be obtained from your local tire dealer.

| Motorists Tire Care & Safety Guide |