Survey Shows Increase in Baldness – of Tires

Millions of Vehicles Riding on Bald Tires; Industry Urges Motorists to Be Tire Smart

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 14, 2012 – More than one in eight U.S. vehicles has bald tires, according to survey by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), which represents this country’s tire manufacturers. With bald tires, vehicles cannot properly grip the road, may experience increased stopping distances; and hydroplane on wet roads. These conditions all increase the risk of a crash – especially in adverse weather conditions.

A 2012 RMA survey of 5,300 vehicles found that more than 13 percent had at least one bald tire – an increase from 10.4 percent recorded in a 2010 survey. Further, a 2011RMA phone survey of motorists found that 64 percent did not know how to check tire tread depth and 9 percent or respondents said they never check tire tread depth.

“Tire care is critical to keeping your vehicle road-ready,” said Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president. “Bald tires are dangerous and may lead to loss of vehicle control, particularly on wet roads. Checking tire tread is easy and inexpensive to do. All you need is a penny.”

RMA recommends the “penny test” to check tire tread depth. Simply insert a penny with Lincoln’s head upside down into the tread of each tire. If you can see the entire top of his head, your tire is considered bald because it has less than one-sixteenth of an inch of tread depth. Bald tires must be replaced immediately to reduce the risk of a crash.

Through its national tire maintenance education effort, Be Tire Smart – Play Your PART, RMA urges motorists to check tire pressure with a tire gauge and measure tread depth every month. RMA also recommends regular tire rotation and wheel alignment to help ensure even tire wear. PART is an acronym that refers to four essential tire care elements:

  • Pressure: Under-inflation is the leading cause of wear and tear of tires. Check tire pressure monthly; use the correct inflation pressure for your vehicle (locate sticker on driver’s door or refer to owner’s manual); and check tires before you drive or wait 3 hours afterward.
  • Alignment: Misalignment of wheels in the front or rear can cause uneven and rapid tread-wear.
  • Rotation: Regularly rotating your vehicle’s tires (every 5,000-8,000 miles) will help you achieve more uniform wear.
  • Tread: Advanced and unusual wear can reduce the ability of tread to grip the road in adverse conditions. Use the “penny test” to check tread depth.

For more information on proper tire care, visit; @BeTireSmart on Twitter or Be Tire Smart on Facebook.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for tire manufacturers that make tires in the U.S.