94 ;e Costco Connection APRIL 2016
By Kerry Johnson
AS I WAS DRIVING on a freeway near Seattle
recently, I noticed debris from someone’s blown-out
tire all over the road. That got me thinking about my
own tires—and about a few road trips I’ll be taking
with my family this summer.
I decided to call the experts at Costco’s Tire
Center to find out how to make sure my tires last
through the summer and beyond, and what to consider if I need to shop for new ones.
The image of shredded bits of tire strewn across
the freeway is fresh in my mind as I call Robert
Moyer, the director of Costco’s tire operations for
North America, so I ask him how I could prevent
that from happening with my car. He says the most
common cause of a tire blowout is underinflation.
“Typically, when a tire comes apart like that,” he
says, “it’s because, when a tire has been driven on
underinflated, the sidewall starts to break down.
Eventually the sidewall will let loose and it just
blows out. That’s not always the case, but it’s a fair
number of cases.”
Robert then tells me about a 2001 study by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) that found that 43 percent of drivers don’t
take an active role in maintaining proper tire pres-
sure, and that 25 percent of those who do check
their tire pressure are doing it wrong.
That’s one of the reasons Costco Tire Centers
fill all tires with nitrogen instead of regular air.
“Nitrogen helps maintain a tire’s pressure lon-
ger,” Robert explains. “Tires naturally lose air
through the sidewalls because of the size and
makeup of oxygen molecules. But nitrogen mole-
cules are a different shape and makeup than oxygen
molecules, so they actually migrate out of the tires at
a much slower rate.”
Costco was the first major tire retailer to switch
to 100 percent nitrogen and is still the only one to
offer it routinely and at no additional charge.
Robert notes that even if your tires are filled
with nitrogen, it’s still important to regularly have
their pressure checked by a professional. Costco
Tire Centers also offer free lifetime tire pressure
checks for the tires purchased there.
As I talk with Robert about tire pressure, I’m
reminded of the last time I got a flat, many years
ago. I knew how to change a tire (thanks to my dad,
who wouldn’t let me get my driver’s license until I
could show him I could handle a flat and other car
troubles), but I could not loosen the lug nuts. They
would not budge. I had to call my brother to help
me, and even he struggled with them.
Freelance writer Kerry Johnson
fills this month’s consumer
reporter slot with this behind-the-scenes look at a Costco
program. Send questions
about this article to:
Costco Tire Centers offer
exceptional service and value
COSTCO PHOTO STUDIO / FRANCE FREEMAN
Bob Miller, at the Costco
Tire Center in Covington,