Tires Can Kill!

April 18, 2010

A tragic and deadly accident occurred one February morning after the driver of a vehicle pulled in to the emergency lane of I-17 to change a flat tire and was struck by another car.

This terrible accident should serve as a reminder to all of us that the condition of our tires is of the utmost importance when it comes to your safety.

When having routine maintenance performed on your vehicle, it is important to use a quality, full service shop with experienced technicians who will inspect the condition of your tires as well as insuring that your tires are properly inflated. The shop can look for signs of uneven tread wear, bubbles, cracking, punctures as well as checking the date code. Vehicle manufactures recommend replacing your tires every seven years regardless of tread life. This is especially important in our hot Arizona climate where the ultraviolet rays and severe heat will cause structural changes to the tires, putting you at risk of a tire failure. Spring and summer months put our tires at even greater risk of failure when they are old and worn due to the excessive heat. If your spare tire is located in your trunk, make sure that your shop has easy access to inspect it for proper inflation and to examine the date code. To insure that your tires get the longest life, ask your shop to rotate them every 6,000 miles.     

Every month as a part of your regular vehicle care, you should check the tire pressures. Check your owner’s manual or the label posted on the drivers side door jam for proper inflation levels as determined by the vehicle manufacturer. Operating your vehicle on under or over-inflated tires can decrease the life of your tires and could produce hazardous results. Do not use the inflation level stamped on the actual tire. It is always best to check your tire pressures when the tires are cold. Use a good quality tire gauge in order to receive an accurate reading.

To insure that you are best prepared in the event of a tire failure:

  1. Get hands-on instruction to properly and quickly change a tire.
  2. Make sure that your spare is in good condition and properly inflated.
  3. Make sure that your jack is in good working order.
  4. If your wheels have lug locks, make sure that you have the key handy.
  5. Have an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes flares and a flashlight.


In the event of a tire failure:

  1. Move your vehicle off the road as far as possible.
  2. Do not attempt to change a tire if the jack can not be used on a stable and level surface.


If you do not know how to properly and quickly change a tire in the event of a failure, the side of the road is not a good place to learn. Store the phone number of a reputable towing service in your cell phone or your wallet.

Remember, tires that are worn do not stop a vehicle as rapidly and they do not handle as well, especially when raining!

When it’s time to replace your tires, be sure to use a reputable tire dealer and insist on a quality, name brand tire. Be sure that the date code of the tires shows that they were manufactured within the past year to insure that you get the longest life out of your tire investment. 

It is vitally important to our overall road safety for drivers to secure items that are transported in the beds of their trucks or on the exterior of the vehicle. Road debris is a road hazard especially when it creates a catastrophic tire failure.

Your tires are critical to the safety of you and your passengers. Make sure that your vehicle is road ready every day!

Cary Lockwood of is an automotive consumer advocate and the host of Your Auto Network’s Calling All Cars radio show on KXXT 1010 AM Phoenix and KXEG 1280 AM Phoenix. Cary is also on the Better Business Bureau’s Auto Repair Advisory Committee. Cary has over 30 years in the auto industry as an engineering technician at G.M. as well as being an auto repair shop owner for 10 years. You can download the radio show by going to You can also post your automotive questions through the contact page of the website.