February 21, 2022
Is It Dangerous to Drive with Low Tire Pressure?
Tire pressure refers to the amount of air that inflates road tires to their proper size and condition for your travels. When you neglect your tires and regularly drive with one or more underinflated tires, you might be running a greater risk of a car accident than you realize.
Most tires simply deflate slowly when punctured by a road hazard. An underinflated tire could fail suddenly and create a true driving danger. A sudden tire failure might pull your vehicle into an oncoming lane of traffic. It also might cause a rollover accident.
The dangers of an underinflated tire generally are greater the faster you drive and the hotter it is outside. Speed and heat could combine to undermine an underinflated tire and cause it to fail suddenly.
How to Know the Correct Tire Pressure?
All vehicles are designed to roll on tires of a particular size. The properly sized tires should fit the wheels perfectly and help to give your vehicle the best traction and handling.
All carmakers also list a recommended tire pressure for the respective vehicles that they manufacture. You can find the carmaker’s recommended tire pressure in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
Likewise, each tire manufacturer lists a recommended tire pressure on the sidewalls of each tire. That will tell you the maximum air pressure that the tire is designed to take.
The automaker and the tiremaker might list different recommended tire pressure for the same size tire. You want to go by the recommended tire pressure listed in your vehicle’s owner’s manual if it is different than what is listed on the tire.
How Low Tires Could Compromise Vehicle Safety?
When tire pressures get too low in one or more tires, your vehicle will get poor fuel economy. That is because the tires are creating more friction and drag that slow down your vehicle and sap some of the engine’s power.
Underinflated tires also deliver decreased traction because they ride more on the shoulders leading to the sidewalls than on the tread. The tire makes a poor contact patch and could affect the handling. Turns are especially dangerous, owing to the shifting pressures on the sidewalls.
If you drive for an extended amount of time with one or more tires underinflated, the affected tires will suffer from improper tire wear. That will reduce the tire’s service life and might cause your vehicle to pull in one direction.
Specific Dangers of Low Tires
There are two primary ways in which an underinflated tire might cause a dangerous tire failure: blowouts or tread separation. Either one could cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
Most modern tires are made using varying layers of steel belts that are encased in highly durable rubber. The steel belts help to give the tires a lot of strength and absorb bumps and jolts from various road conditions.
When the tires are properly inflated, they produce a good contact patch and ride on the durable tread that is designed to give you the best traction and handling. Underinflated tires do the opposite and ride more on the thinner shoulders.
If you continue to drive with an underinflated tire, the shoulder or sidewall might weaken. Eventually, it could blow out and cause you to lose control of your vehicle. A blowout while turning could cause a rollover.
A low tire also could cause the steel belts to separate from the tread. If the condition persists, the tire could throw the tread from the wheel. That would lead to a loss of traction.
You likely have seen sections of tread from big rigs on or in the roadway. That is what happens with a tread separation on a tractor-trailer. Your vehicle might do something very similar.
Signs of Low Tire Pressure
The easiest way to tell one or more tires might be underinflated is to check each one with a tire pressure gauge. A commonly pencil-style pressure gauge is inexpensive and will tell you the exact air pressure in each tire.
It only takes a few seconds to check each tire. You likely can check all four tires in a minute or so. Doing that at least once per week can help you to get the best life and service from your tires.
Unfortunately, the majority of motorists ignore their tires unless something alerts them to a problem. With that in mind, modern cars are equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems. If one or more tires are running lower than recommended, a warning light will alert you.
If you are driving an older model vehicle that does not have automatic tire sensors, the tire’s shape might indicate it is underinflated. A low tire will bulge out more just above the tread. It also might look slightly shorter than the other tires. A quick check with a pressure gauge could confirm it is low.
Possible Liability for Underinflated Tires
It might be possible to hold a driver accountable for driving on underinflated tires and causing an accident. If the motorist suddenly crossed into your travel lane because of a tire failure, that could be an obvious indicator of fault and liability.
An accident reconstructionist also might have access to the offending vehicle after the accident. If it has three good tires and one blown-out or very underinflated tire, that might show neglect by that driver.
The vehicle could contain tire monitoring systems. If the driver ignored a warning indicator, that could be grounds for punitive damages for gross negligence. An experienced car accident lawyer could help to build the best case to hold a driver liable for driving on underinflated tires.
Norristown Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C., Help Clients in Accidents Caused by Negligent Drivers
If you were in an accident caused by someone driving on underinflated tires, reach out to the experienced Norristown car accident lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Our legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and hold liable parties accountable. Call us at 267-861-7100 or visit our website to set up a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients in Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Chester County, and Norristown.