TSTC Automotive Technology students Cesar Eusebio (left) and Bryan Castillo use a wheel balancing system during a recent lab session.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Automobile tire safety is crucial for drivers who commute on Texas roadways, and knowledge about an aging tire can help prevent an automobile accident.

Miguel Zoleta is the Automotive Technology program director at Texas State Technical College’s campus in Harlingen. Recently he shared how tire efficiency can improve a driver’s safety.

“An aging tire means there’s a decrease in a tire’s performance (that can be caused by) wear and tear, uneven road surfaces, improper tire inflation and other factors,” Zoleta said. “It’s recommended that a tire be replaced if it’s six years or older.”

In 2021, a total of 622 people died in tire-related crashes in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Consumers can check the tread on a tire by doing a “penny test.”

“Place a penny between the tire’s tread and turn the coin so that Lincoln’s head points downward,” Zoleta said. “If the top of his head disappears, the tire tread is fine. Otherwise, I would suggest the tire needs to be replaced.”

Zoleta provided some helpful tips for tire maintenance.

“It’s important to regularly check your tires, monitor for tire inflation and get your tires rotated,” Zoleta said. “Causes for improper tire maintenance can lead to a flat tire, a blowout, or tread coming off a tire. If a person plans to purchase new tires, I suggest they research a manufacturer’s tire lifespan specifications.”

Typically a vehicle’s tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

In TSTC’s Automotive Technology program, students are educated about tire construction, tire wear and tear, tread patterns, recommended tire procedures, and other areas.

“Students do hands-on training assignments such as basic tire changes, balancing tires, tire repair and identification,” Zoleta said. “They also use a state-of-the-art Hunter Road Force Elite diagnostic wheel balancer that is recommended by our industry partners.”

Consumers can learn more about tire safety ratings on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website at https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/tires.

The need for qualified automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to grow in Texas over the next several years. According to onetonline.org, Texas employs more than 55,000 of these technicians around the state, and that number was forecast to top 61,000 by 2030. The average annual salary for a technician in the state is $44,810.

In Automotive Technology, TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and several certificates of completion at the Harlingen, Sweetwater and Waco campuses.

Registration for TSTC’s spring semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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