Simple tire checks can be life-saving - - Columbia, South Carolina

Simple tire checks can be life-saving

Using the old penny method to check your tires could be life-saving. Using the old penny method to check your tires could be life-saving.

Investigators blame a blown out tire for a deadly crash that killed one man Sunday night on I-26. This accident is one of hundreds that have happened in the state over the years because of tire blowouts.

When it comes to keeping a watchful eye on your tires, really the tread is only one thing to look out for. So what are you looking for? Dry rot cracks in the middle of the tread.

Mechanics say the sheer heat of driving on the road can cause that to happen. The cracks, which start on the surface of the tire, can then wear it down to its core, causing an instant blow out.

If you're traveling at a high speed when that happens the aftermath can be deadly. 

So far this year alone, about 150 people in South Carolina have been injured in car crashes linked to poor tires and two people have been killed.

In recent years new technology has helped in some ways with the problem. All cars made in the United States are now required to have dashboard alerts, letting you know when your tire pressure is low.

Still mechanics like Bryan Bouknight say those lights can sometimes fail and the best way to know how your tires look from front to back.

"Just look at it and make sure you don't see dry rot," said Bouknight. "Make sure the tread looks even. If it looks bigger on one side and less on the other side where you got an alignment problem where its heating up. That's kind of a rule of thumb right there."

One simple test to check your tires is stick a penny right in the center treads. If you can see Abe Lincoln's head without any part of it being blocked, odds are the tread is pretty warn down and it's now time to get new wheels.

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