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Gauging Tire Pressure

Technology Can't Replace Your Tire Gauge

If you're buying a new car this fall, federally mandated tire pressure monitoring systems will help oversee your vehicle's tire pressure. However, a tire industry group cautions that the newly required system is not a replacement for old-fashioned tire gauges.

As of the 2008 model year, federal law requires that every model year vehicle come equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, which will warn a driver when tire pressure drops by 25 percent. However, the Rubber Manufacturers Association, which represents tire manufacturers, warns drivers against throwing out their tire gauges.

"Motorists risk tire damage if they wait to check tires until they see a dashboard warning light after a 25 percent loss of tire pressure," said Dan Zielinski, RMA vice president, communications. "For many vehicles, a pressure loss of less than 25 percent increases risk. That's why motorists must check tire pressure every month with a tire gauge."

A 2007 RMA survey indicates that tire pressure monitoring systems may cause drivers to become more complacent about tire care. Two-thirds of drivers reported that they would be "less concerned with routinely maintaining" tire pressure if their vehicle had a monitoring system.

Additionally, when asked how often they would check tire pressure if their vehicle were equipped with a monitoring system, an alarming 40 percent of drivers said that they would either "never" manually check tire pressure, or check it "only when the warning light comes on."

"Tire pressure monitoring systems can be effective at detecting an unexpected loss of tire pressure," Zielinski said. "But it is no substitute for regular tire maintenance with a tire gauge." Tires can lose one to two pounds-per-square-inch (psi) of pressure each month.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that one in every three cars has a significantly under-inflated tire. Additionally, every year nearly 660 fatalities and 33,000 injuries occur as a result of low tire pressure-related crashes. According to the RMA, 85 percent of drivers do not even know how to properly check tire pressure.

"With fall here, checking tire pressure is important because tire pressure drops one to two psi for every 10-degree drop in temperature," Zielinski said. "Keeping tires properly inflated promotes safety, maximizes fuel economy and helps tires last."

The RMA is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include more than 80 companies that manufacture various rubber products including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales. All RMA press releases are available at

Source: Rubber Manufacturers Association