Pop! Thump, thump, thump! The sound every motorist dreads hearing; you’ve blown out a tire. Not only is it dangerous for the car’s passengers to be driving on old or questionable tires, it does not bode well for the maintenance and care of the car itself. Our driver friend might have missed the memo about tire care, but stick to these simple guidelines and, hopefully, you can catch any potential problems before they lead to a flat.
Tires manufactured today are designed to last longer than their predecessors from previous decades. Our advances in tire design allow them to be roadworthy for 50,000 to 60,000 miles, just as long as they are properly cared for. If you are someone who does not drive that often, experts recommend replacing tires every six years.
Just like most other products, tires do go bad. The six-year time stamp is just a guideline. Those of us who live in areas that experience extreme heat, cold, or inclement weather might want to think about replacing sooner. Consistently driving in extreme circumstances hits the fast forward button on the wear and tear of tires. Keep a closer eye if you put them through harder conditions than most.
For the regular, run-of-the-mill driver, experts say to not let your tire tread fall below one-sixteenth of an inch. For those who frequently drive on wet surfaces where tread is super important, falling below one-eighth of an inch is not advised.
Don’t know how to measure tread? Grab a penny. Slide a penny with Lincoln’s head down into the tire tread. Did his head disappear? You are good for a while. Can you still see Mr. President’s noggin? Sorry to break it to you. Your tread is too worn; you need new tires.
Many newer tires come with tire replacement indicator bars built into the design. They run perpendicular to the tire tread and let you know when it is time to chuck the old and bring in some new. Upon purchase, only one or two of these indicator bars should be visible. The more worn down the tire, the more the indicator bars can be seen. If you see more than two, it is probably time to get some new tires.
Sides of the Tires
Aside from the use of tire technology, the easiest and arguably most effective way to tell if you need new tires is just to look at them. The sides of tires are not as heavily enforced with rubber layers as the part that makes contact with roadways. The side, or sidewall, can start to crack or splinter the older the tires are. Because it is thinner, the likelihood of a splintered sidewall leading to tire blowout is significantly higher than on any other part of the tire.
The same goes for any bubbling or blistering in the sidewall. Logic reasons the weaker the outer part of the tire gets, the more prone it is to blowout. If your eye catches any protrusion in the sidewall, it could be an indication of trapped air. If air gets trapped in between an already weakened sidewall, the added pressure from driving could cause the bubble to burst. Again, it is time for new tires.
You drive your car every day; you know when it does not feel right. Excessive vibration could be telling you your tires need replacing. It could be that you are experiencing alignment problems or that the shocks are not absorbing as they should. Either way, unaddressed, these problems will start to affect the tires. If the weight of the car is distributed unevenly, one tire starts to shoulder more responsibility, which effectively causes it to wear out more quickly than the others.
The treads can wear out faster on improperly inflated tires as well. Check air pressure monthly and rotate and balance your tires every four to six thousand miles for happier driving!
The writer, Rebecca Short, absolutely loves her car and does everything she can to keep it running. When she finds herself needing more than a simple tire change however, she often turns to linearautomotive.com for maintenance or body work.