The performance of your car’s tires is very crucial to the safety and the vehicle’s handling as well. Besides that, car’s performance and efficiency also rely on the condition of the tire as N.H.T.S.A estimates that there are about 200 fatalities annually may have been caused by tire failures. Although most tires are designed to offer similar performance throughout their lives, they start losing performance at some point regarding their traction and braking ability. If you ever wonder how to know the right time to replace your car’s tires, probably you need to read these 10 steps to identify when car tires need replacing. You’ll get a few tips that should help you decide if your tires need replacing so you can start shopping for a new set of tires and avoid spending something more than the necessity.
- Be aware of the primary function of tread on a tire
We should be mindful that the tread of a tire has primary purpose of diverting water from beneath the tire to improve traction and prevent hydroplaning when driving on wet roads. Therefore, tires become unsafe when they are worn, and it is no longer safe once the tread of the tire is down to 1/16th of an inch (1.6mm).
- Pay attention to the tread pattern
You should know that all tires sold in the USA and some other countries have what are called ‘tread wear bars. These are some small bridges that form between your treads. Now, look at the tread pattern of the tire to see the beginnings of these bars which are starting to form between the treads, or even running across the tires. As the tires wear, the form of these bars will become flush with the tire’s tread. If you see this sign, don’t wait to replace the tires.
- Penny test to check the tread
You can also check the tread of the tire using the “penny test” by taking a penny and then place it upside down with Lincoln facing you right in the center of the tread – put it at the thickest part of the tire. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head or the copper above it, you should replace the tires as soon as possible. If you can see Lincoln’s hair on the top of his head, it is time to go shopping and prepare for the replacement. If you insert the coin in the center of the tread and you can’t see the hair on the top of Lincoln’s head, you don’t need to replace the tire.
- Measure the tire’s tread using a tread depth indicator or gauge
If you want to be sure about the tread of your tires, you can measure it using a particular tread depth indicator or gauge tool. If you don’t have any of these tools, alternatively, pop the car into your regular tire place and then ask them to check it for you.
- Understand the legal requirements
Make sure you know well about the legal requirements that cover about car’s tires. One of these conditions tells that worn tires should be replaced as a matter of common sense to assure safety. In some jurisdictions, you might find some legal requirements to replace worn tires. Especially for US states, car’s tires should have a minimum depth of the tread 1.6millimeters across the central ¾ of the tread around the entire tire.
- Pay attention to any irregular tread wear
Irregular tread wear could indicate a wheel misalignment, the necessity for a tire rotation, or both of them. If you find any uneven tread wear, that is the sign to take your car in for servicing. If the uneven tire wear is extreme, you should have a competent tire workshop check your car’s suspension and ask him to correct it as necessary before you replaced the tires. Usually, an improper alignment or worn suspension parts causes dramatically shorten a tire’s life. It can be a great idea to rotate your tires from front to rear in pairs.
- Take note for any abnormal bulges or bubbles in the sidewall
A sidewall bulge of a tire indicates that the rigid internal frame has been damaged and cracked. This condition allows air pressure to reach the flexible outer layer of the tire. The tire could also have this damage from the driving through a large pothole or over a curb or even driving with low tire pressure. It is dangerous to ride on a tire that has this sidewall bulge. The reduced structural integrity of the tire could increase the likelihood of a sudden failure or blowout at highway speeds. Replace the tire immediately if you find this bulges sign, regardless of the tread status.
- Once in six years
Ideally, you should replace the tires at least once in six years as it is also recommended by the NHTSA regardless of use, with the maximum service life for tires around ten years. You should check your owner’s manual to get specific recommendations related to your car.
- Be aware of a vibration in the steering wheel
You may notice a vibration in the steering wheel if your tires are unevenly worn when you are driving. Probably you should rebalance the tires to stop the vibration; if it doesn’t stop, it could indicate that the tire is damaged.
- Take note any dry rot
If there are little cracks all over the tires, it means that the tire’s rubber is breaking down. If a tire has this dry decay, it can fall apart and separate from the steel belt causing damage to the car’s exterior.