Accurate Tire Gauge

If someone told you your car wasn't safe to drive, you wouldn't keep driving it, would you? Yet one in four cars has at least one significantly underinflated tire-a serious safety risk.

Consumer Reports says a good tire gauge can help keep you safe. That is IF you use it.

Mechanic Alex Rodriguez sees firsthand just how dangerous it is to ignore your car's tires.

Rodriguez says, "Some people have blowouts or tire failures. If you keep the correct air pressure in your tires, all these things could be avoided."

Consumer Reports' Jon Linkov says checking your tires at least once a month is one of the best safety moves you can make.

Linkov says, "Underinflated tires contribute to thousands of crash-related injuries each year. Not only can they lead to blow-outs, they can also negatively affect your car's handling."

At Consumer Reports' test track, one car, with underinflated tires-has a lot of trouble on the emergency-handling course.

But with the tires properly inflated, the tester has no problem maneuvering through the same course.

Linkov says, "Underinflated tires also waste fuel and they wear out a lot faster."

To make it easier to check your tire pressure, Consumer Reports tested 14 gauges. They cost anywhere from four dollars to $56.

Digital gauges are the easiest to read. The Accutire gauge for about $10 is one of the top-rated.

Linkov says, "You want to make sure that you have the correct recommended tire pressure. A common mistake is going by the tire pressure listed on the tire. That's actually the pressure for the car's maximum carrying load."

Instead, look for a sticker on the driver's-side door or check your owner's manual.

To get an accurate tire-pressure reading, you have to check tires when they're cold.

Having a tire gauge on hand makes that a lot easier. If you've driven your car, it takes about three hours for the tires to cool.

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