Don’t wait to inflate! Checking tire pressure monthly helps drivers stay safer, save money – and save salmon

A recently discovered stormwater pollutant from cars is killing local coho salmon at an alarming rate, but the source might not be what you expect. Fuel emissions? Oil leaks? Dirty car wash water flowing down storm drains into our waters? Worse: a highly toxic rubber preservative in tire wear particles called 6PPD-q. 

Local researchers, Washington Department of Ecology and tire manufacturers are working on new formulations to address the issue, but solutions will take time – and coho can’t wait. What can we all do now to help save the salmon? A new tire care campaign sponsored by the Puget Sound Starts Here team of local cities, counties, local nonprofit partners and Washington State Department of Ecology shows the answer is simple: “Don’t wait to inflate”.

A helpful reminder from Terry the Tire.

A friendly mascot “Terry the Tire” and the webpage share resources on how, when and where to check air pressure and keep tires properly inflated. These include a short how-to video, a map of nearby air stations, car care tips and 6PPD-q research. Stickers and window clings will be distributed throughout the Puget Sound region thanks to local city, county and nonprofit partners.

The “Don’t Wait to Inflate” campaign shows drivers how, when and where to check their tire air pressure and keep tires properly inflated for safety, savings – and salmon!

Stickers and window clings help remind drivers to check tires monthly.

An animated ad conveys the impact of proper tire pressure on safety, savings, and coho salmon.

The “Don’t Wait to Inflate” tire car campaign helps drivers make a difference by taking a simple action – check your tire pressure monthly and add air as soon as possible if needed. Ads will appear on digital channels and include paid digital display ads, digital native ads, animated video ads and social media ads as well as organic social posts.

Properly inflated tires can help keep people safer on the road, save money, and even save the lives of local coho salmon. As tires wear, they shed tire particles called tire crumb or dust that wash off roads into waters. The US Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) recommends checking tires at least once a month and inflating if low to help reduce tire wear particles. Tires maintained monthly at their ideal air pressure wear longer, reducing the rate of toxic pollutants released.  

“Drivers can take a small action to reduce tire particles and help keep our waters cleaner and protect coho salmon. It’s an easy way to help our salmon and it’s safer for drivers too. By checking tire pressure monthly and adding air right away if needed, drivers save gas and tire wear, and help keep water clean.”

– Mary Rabourn, King County Stormwater Services

Research findings revealed that nearly 33% of Puget Sound area residents currently check their tire pressure monthly. Of those who don’t, 65% of respondents said they are somewhat to very likely willing to check their tire pressure monthly if they are shown how. The campaign shows drivers who have never done it before how fast and easy it can be. And it encourages those who may be checking their tire pressure less frequently to commit to checking it monthly. The research and campaign information includes feedback from English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese language users from around Puget Sound. 

We also heard from Puget Sound area drivers that they preferred a focus on safety, savings, and helping to protect our salmon.

“We want to help people discover that if you can pump gas or charge your car, you can check your tire pressure monthly and add air for safer driving and cleaner water. It’s that easy for drivers at any experience level. Or take it to your local service station and ask them to check for you. It’s good for drivers, coho salmon and protecting Puget Sound. So why wait?”

– Justine Asohmbom, Washington Department of Ecology

“The Don’t Wait to Inflate campaign not only raises awareness about personal and environmental benefits of tire care. It opens the door to making other small changes to car care and our daily activities at home, in the yard, with dogs and in our communities. Collectively we can make a big difference in Puget Sound recovery and keep pollution out of our waterways.”

– Susan McCleary, City of Olympia

To learn more and share the campaign, visit and follow @PugetSoundStartsHere #DontWaitToInflate #PugetSoundStartsHere on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

About the 2023 Puget Sound Starts Here campaign

The annual Puget Sound Starts Here campaign has been a regional collaboration since it began in 2008. The focus is to raise awareness about rainwater pollution issues and influence environmental actions and community norms. Partners use social marketing practices to focus on audiences and create relevant information on clean water actions. 

The annual campaign is in two stages in 2023: one funded by a National Estuary Program grant that will end September 30, 2023 and the extended phase that is funded by contributions from regional partners working together on clean water outreach projects. 

Partners around Puget Sound that have contributed funding to the campaign are Seattle Public Utilities, King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County, Thurston County, West Sound Stormwater Outreach Group, Kirkland, Duvall, Issaquah, Renton, Lynnwood, Auburn, Redmond, Tacoma, University Place, Everett, Sammamish, Tukwila, Bothell, Lake Forest Park, Marysville, Monroe, Shoreline, Burien, Edmonds, Lacey, Maple Valley, Mukilteo, Enumclaw, Normandy Park and Olympia. Cities and others that have not contributed help spread the campaign through their outreach are members of the STORM collaborative of stormwater managers and the EcoNets, an environmental nonprofit network. 

Nonprofits that are participating in the campaign include Zero Waste Washington, the King County ECO Net and Stewardship Partners. 

Contractors involved in developing the campaign include Rich Marketing, Bridge Latino, Nancy Lee, Lori Kothe, Tai Le, Burshek Research and GA Creative.  

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement PC-01J18101 to the Washington State Department of Ecology. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. 

To learn more, visit

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