IS IT TIME FOR NEW TIRES?
Posted on: Dec. 07, 2016 in Driving, Accidents, Auto Maintenance, Cars

When do tires need to be replaced? Is it annually? Is it only when you get a flat? Somewhere in between? (Hint – it’s definitely somewhere in between!)

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that almost 10% of vehicle crashes are thought to be caused, at least in part, by tire problems. Whether it’s a blowout and loss of control, under inflation, or lack of tread, tires can be to blame for a host of problems on the road. Checking your tires periodically can help prevent accidents.

Tires are designed at they are for a reason. The tread pattern, the grooves that run along the driving surface of the tire, help to expel water away from the tire to prevent hydroplaning. Hydroplaning occurs when a layer of water builds between the wheel of the car and the road itself. The result is the car will lose traction, causing the driver to potentially lose control of the vehicle. If the tread of the tire becomes worn, these grooves become far less effective.

New tires have a depth of approximately 10/32”. Tread depth of less than 2/32” is considered unsafe to drive. However, you should consider replacing your tires when the depth is 4/32”. Having appropriate tread can prevent hydroplaning and will allow the tires to grip the road more firmly, particularly when stopping. Deeper tire tread will also help in the snow providing increased traction.

 There’s an easy way to tell if your tire’s tread is too worn and all it takes is some pocket change.

Take a penny and insert it into the tread. Check several places around the tire as the wear could be uneven. If Lincoln’s head is covered, you have at least 2/32” of tread. But if you can see all of Lincoln’s head at any point, your tire is significantly worn and needs to be replaced.

If you want to be extra cautious, do the same thing with a quarter, inserting it into the grooves. If the top of Washington’s head is covered, you have more than 4/32” of tread. If his whole head is visible, you are in that gray area where you should be replacing your tires soon.

If your tread is in good shape, give some thought to the age of your tires. Even with adequate tread, your tires should be replaced when they are between six and ten years old. At that point, they are simply too old to be reliable. If you’re not sure how old your tires are, you can check the Tire Identification Number on the wall of the tire. You should find a four-digit number on the tire that will indicate when it was manufactured. The first two numbers will indicate the week and the last two will indicate the year. So, if the tire reads 1813, the tire was made in the 18th week of 2013. Don’t forget that spare tire in your trunk – be sure to check the manufacture date on that tire as well!

In addition to tread and age, always be on the lookout for bulges, bubbles, a slow leak as evidenced by visible low pressure, obvious wears, or anything puncturing the tire at any point. Most cars manufactured after 2007 are equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) which will illuminate your dashboard in case of a problem, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still take a look around before you get in the car.

Having a tire blowout on the road can be scary and leave you stranded while you wait for assistance. It can also be dangerous if you’re stuck with no safe place to change the tire. Worst of all, you can lose control of the vehicle injuring yourself and others or causing damage to the car. By visually inspecting the car and monitoring the tread, you can may be able to prevent one of these scenarios.

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