Kumho Tire USA says motorists may be placing themselves at risk because of their reluctance to spend. How? Because the biggest trend since the recession has been for consumers to keep their cars longer, delay maintenance and delay buying tires.

Apparently, many consumers are not well-informed with regard to tire safety issues. In large part this appears to be the result of a failure of the automotive and tire industries to communicate crucial tire safety information to consumers, including how to maintain tires properly and the risks involved with failing to do so.

That means too many of us are driving around on bald tires, trying to get a few more miles out of tires we should have replaced long ago... Does that sound like anyone you know?

You've heard this before... Consumers are saying things are tight. The average age of vehicles on America's roads has reached an all-time high of 11.4 years, according to the market research firm Polk. And that average age is sure to keep climbing, the firm said.

The decline in new vehicle sales during the recession pushed the average vehicle age higher, as people kept their old cars running longer, according to Polk. The number of vehicles over a dozen years old is growing especially rapidly.

So we put off and procrastinate when it comes to the new tire purchase. Not a good idea.

Unfortunately, the lifespan of vehicle tires is only six years. Because the country’s cars are older than ever before and such a high percentage of American drivers are postponing tire maintenance, it is possible that millions of us are driving cars equipped with expired, unsafe tires.

And researchers at North Carolina State University found that only 4 percent of consumers consider tire aging as being potentially hazardous.

Widespread improper/inadequate tire maintenance is reflected in the findings of a recent Rubber Manufacturers Association (“RMA”) survey. Based on a sample of more than 6,000 vehicles, the survey revealed that over 50 percent of American vehicles have at least one under-inflated tire. The same survey discovered that almost 11 percent of all vehicles are fitted with at least one bald tire.

That's a ticking time bomb. Please -- Let's play it safe. Have your tires checked ASAP and make sure you've got all four tires properly inflated with good tread that keeps you out of harm's way.