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Survey says Canadians know tire needs, don't practice them

Tire and Rubber Association survey says just 30% check pressures monthly

Joe Duarte
Published: May 16, 2018, 2:30 AM
Updated: May 19, 2018, 3:02 AM

Pirelli Cinturato CA67 detail

A recent survey has shown that Canadian motorists are aware of the need for proper tire inflation, but few actually practice safe-tire maintenance on a regular basis.

The online survey of 801 Canadian motorists was conducted online between April 12 and 19, 2018 by LegerWeb on behalf of the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (which represents tire makers). It showed that 96% of respondents believe proper tire inflation is crucial to vehicle fuel efficiency, but just 30% checked their tire pressures at least monthly (a practice regarded as important in the reduction of fuel consumption, as well as for vehicle safety and environment sensitivity).

Checking tire pressure

“Canadian drivers understand the benefits of proper tire inflation and that’s great news,” says Glenn Maidment, president of the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC). “However, the survey also emphasizes the urgent requirement for broader driver knowledge and education on tire inflation facts and procedures.”

In particular, the survey found younger drivers are significantly less likely to know inflation pressure-checking procedures.

Tire pressure warning symbol (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Hydrargyrum)

The survey also showed that 65% were unaware that tire pressures should be measured when tires are cold (stationary for at least three hours after driving, or driven no farther than two km), 37% refer to the tire pressure stamped on the tire (the maximum pressure a tire can contain under maximum load, which could result in loss of traction in wet conditions) instead of the vehicle’s owners manual or the plaque affixed somewhere on the vehicle (usually on the driver’s side door jamb just below the latch, but sometimes in the glove box or even inside the fuel-flap door), and 22% check their tires simply by sight (a tire can be as much as 20% underinflated before visibly showing it).

That said, those who follow good inflation practices say they do it for safety (84% of respondents), tire longevity (74%), fuel economy (73%) and vehicle handling (71%). Further, 86% of respondents said they rotated their tires in the past year, 66% checked the alignment in the past year, and 61% use a hand-held tire gauge (instead of relying on the gauges now found on most gas station inflator hoses).

Wheel alignment (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Mike Peel)

Research has shown that properly inflated tires can improve fuel economy by as much as 3%, and on average by 0.6%. Poorly inflated tires can hurt fuel economy by about 0.2% for every psi (pound per square inch) below proper inflation.

On the environment, TRAC says that drivers will waste somewhere around 500 million litres of fuel this year just by driving on underinflated tires, as well as pumping an additional 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Flat tire (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Xwizard35)

May 14-21 is National Be Tire Smart Week, and the tire industry will be reminding motorists about ways to improve fuel efficiency, safety and environmental benefits through proper tire inflation and maintenance. They will also be informing motorists on the benefits of low rolling resistance tires, which are designed to help vehicles moving more efficiently, and built with advanced rubber technologies to weight less, be more rigid and improve aerodynamics, with the end result being an improvement of 2-4% in economy and savings of $50-$100 on fuel per year (both figures based on about 25,000 km of driving).