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Car Maintenance

Tire Maintenance Critical to Safe Driving

(ARA) - Long weekends, road trips to favorite fishing spots or summer cottages suggest long traveling distances, overloaded vehicles and high tire temperatures. Add low tire pressure, found in 30 percent of all cars and light trucks, and a potentially dangerous situation develops.

Your tires, vehicles and family are at risk

Tires play a crucial role in the safety of a vehicle. As the only part of the car that physically touches the ground, tires are one of the key factors affecting a vehicle's handling and overall safety. "Proper tire inflation and maintenance can extend tire life, increase fuel efficiency and improve vehicle safety," comments Charlene Krepiakevich, corporate communications manager of SmarTire Systems.

Long intervals of high-speed driving with low tire pressure, excess vehicle weight and high temperatures cause additional flexing and stress on the sidewalls and can lead to tire failure. In addition, tires with low pressure wear more quickly, degrade the vehicle's handling, lower the vehicle's load-carrying ability and increase fuel consumption. In a worst-case scenario, under inflated tires can lead to a catastrophic blowout or tread separation.

The facts suggest that a largely unseen and potentially dangerous problem exists for drivers:

* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found 27 percent of passenger cars and 33 percent of light trucks (including sport utility vehicles, vans and pick up trucks) are driven with one or more substantially under inflated tires.

* The American Automobile Association (AAA) responded to approximately 3.48 million calls related to tire problems in 2000. AAA says tires are one of the most important features of a motor vehicle, and regrettably one that is often overlooked by motorists.

* A Consumer Reports study evaluated air pressure loss in 109 all-season passenger car tires over a six-month period. These included 36 tire models from 18 major brands. The results showed that all tires leaked some air, from 3 pounds per square inch (psi) in some models to 8 psi in others.

* NHTSA estimated 23,000 crashes and 535 fatal crashes annually involve blowouts or flat tires.

New automotive products can detect tire pressure loss

SmarTire's products offer motorists peace of mind by actively monitoring contained tire pressure and temperature. Using a lightweight sensor installed inside each tire/wheel assembly, real-time information is sent via wireless signal to an in-car display. Should a deviation in pressure or an excessive increase in temperature occur, an audible and visual warning instantly alerts the driver. This early awareness allows time for the vehicle to be safely stopped or driven to a repair center.

CBS "Crank It Up" car show host Scotty Kilmer, a mechanic for the 36 years, comments on his experience with SmarTire products. "I was pleasantly surprised by SmarTire's products. They have come out with a foolproof system that actually warns you when your tires get low before you get a blow out. No fancy rewiring of your car either -- just plug SmarTire into your cigarette lighter and wireless technology takes care of the rest."

Using sophisticated sensing and radio frequency technology, SmarTire has packaged its aftermarket products for existing passenger cars and light trucks. Depending on consumer preferences and vehicle dashboard configuration, SmarTire has a range of display options that blend with a variety of vehicle styles. SmarTire displays can also be individually programmed to suit specific applications.

For easy installation and low pressure warning signals, SmarTire's Basic Receiver has four color-coded warning lights corresponding to color-coded markers placed on each tire valve. This product offers a low pressure alert, factory set at 22 psi, and a low pressure warning, set at 18 psi.

For drivers wanting more detailed tire pressure information, SmarTire offers two versions of its Full Function Display. Essentially a complete tire information center, this product offers digital pressure and temperature data through a programmable "read-at-a-glance" LCD display. The Full Function Display automatically identifies the nature and location of pressure or temperature irregularities and allows drivers to read the tire temperature and pressure status by scrolling through each tire position. Three levels of warning are provided: an audible and visual indication of a deviation from required pressure, a significant drop in tire pressure levels and excessively high temperature.

"SmarTire products provide drivers with additional tire information that can lead to safer driving," adds Krepiakevich.

SmarTire's monitoring products for passenger cars and light trucks are sold through automotive and tire distributors and retailers such as Big O Tires ( and The Tire Rack ( For a complete list of worldwide distributors, visit or call (888) 982-3001.

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