Flat tire
By Jana Rhodes / Posted July 13, 2016

What to Teach Your Teen About Tire Safety

Does your teen know how to maintain their tires? Driver’s Education programs offer great preparation and training for teen drivers. However, the focus is usually on safety awareness and driving skills. Very little, if any, instruction time covers tire maintenance.

What teens don’t know can hurt them

This lack of knowledge about tire safety is concerning. Improperly inflated tires affect the handling and braking performance of vehicles. According to Michelin North America, teens are involved in 300,000 tire-related accidents each year. Most of these accidents are preventable with proper tire maintenance reminders.

The fact that teens have a much higher rate of tire-related accidents than adults points to a lack of teen education. In fact, tire safety instruction is only required in 16 states. Michelin’s survey found that 27 percent of teens never check their tires, while only three percent of parents claim to never check their tires.

27% of teens never check their tires

Poor tire maintenance affects more than safety

Even if your teen avoids a tire-related accident, the consequences of ignoring tire condition can be costly. Over- or under-inflation can cause premature wear on your tires, which are expensive to replace. Poor tire maintenance can also affect fuel economy. Driving on unbalanced tires for a long period of time can create a need for other repairs. These are all preventable costs that can add up quickly if your teen is unaware of basic tire safety.

What to teach your teen about tire safety and maintenance

You can lower the risk of accidents and save money by teaching your teen a few basic points about maintaining their tires. First, show them how to check tire pressure. You should also show them how to look in the owner’s manual for the recommended tire rotation schedule, which is usually between 5,000 and 7,000 miles. Your car manual might also specify a specific direction that tires should be rotated, so make sure your teen knows where to find this information.

Your teen should know when to replace tires. You can teach them to check tire tread by inserting a penny into the tread. If the top of Mr. Lincoln’s head is showing, it’s time to start shopping for new tires. When the tires are replaced, they should be balanced and aligned to prevent uneven wear and other repair issues.

The Penny Test: How to tell when you need new tires

Can your teen change a tire?

Practice changing tires periodically with your teen, and make sure they understand the limits to driving on a temporary tire (about 50 miles and not above 55 miles per hour). You should check what kind of option your car provides for flat tires, as some newer models don’t even have a temporary “donut” spare. Some cars have a repair kit that injects sealant into the punctured tire, while other cars are equipped with “flat-run” tires that can continue to operate while you find a safe place to exit the road and get a repair.

If your car is equipped with the traditional spare, then you should make sure your teen has a sturdy car jack, a jack stand, gloves, a torque wrench, and tire iron. It is also a good idea to equip your teen with warning reflectors and instructions where to place them for safety when changing a tire. Of course, reflectors are not a substitute for being a safe distance from the road, so instruct your teen to move the car from moving traffic if at all possible.

Keeping track of scheduled maintenance

A great way to teach teens how to keep track of tire maintenance is by using MOTOsafety maintenance reminders. Instead of setting up the alerts yourself, sit down with your teen and show them how to determine and enter necessary schedules. Then, make sure that they are included to receive alerts so that they can learn responsibility early. If you take some time to teach your teen the basics of tire safety, you can reduce their chance of having an accident and instill important life-long habits.

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