Your car’s tires are one of the most important pieces of safety equipment it has. They’re responsible for keeping you safe on the road, so it’s important to make sure they’re in good condition. Here are a few tips on how to tell if your car needs new tires.
Weathering is a major factor for the tires on your vehicle. They are endlessly exposed to the elements (heat, cold, snow, ice, and water). Because rubber is a natural material and will break down over time, you need to be aware of the potential signs of weathering. Common indicators are fine cracks in the sidewall and in between the tread blocks. If you do discover these cracks (which will expose the internal materials of the tire to the elements), your tires should be replaced immediately to prevent any damage or issues with your vehicle.
This usually occurs in a tire after a substantial impact with a pothole or a curb. Manufacturer defects can also cause this issue but are less common. A bulge is caused by air getting between the inner liner of the tire and the outer material layers (fabric, metal, or rubber), resulting in an air pocket forming at the weakened area. If this is not addressed, the bulge could rupture and cause serious damage and/or injury.
Vibrations are an indicator of various tire problems from tire balancing to out-of-round issues. One major tire problem that can cause vibration is when the ‘belts’ or inner cords of the tire separate or shift. Although this is not visible to the naked eye it becomes abundantly clear when the tire is mounted to a balancing machine. The driving feel with a separated tire is described as lumpy at low speeds which becomes a very high-frequency vibration at highway speeds. A tire with these issues needs to be replaced.
At what point is a tire considered worn out? The actual measurement of a tire that has exceeded its usable life is 2/32nds of an inch. If you have a tread depth gauge great, just check your tires; If not, here’s a simple test you can perform to see if your tires need to be replaced.
– Place a penny in the tire tread at various locations around the tire with Lincoln’s head facing down.
– Check to see if any part of Lincoln’s is visible
– If it is, you have 2/32nds or less of tread depth remaining and need to replace your tires.
Tire age ties into a couple of the previously mentioned issues, but is also affected by the date they were manufactured. Typically, most tire manufacturers recommend tire replacements at 5 or 6 years with an absolute replacement timeline of 10 years regardless of tire condition or tread depth. Your tires have a date stamp on the sidewall that indicates the week and year the tire was manufactured. Use this stamp to assess the age and timeline for the replacement of your tires.