Do you Need New Tires? 6 Ways to Tell
Keys to Inspecting your Tires
A tire’s primary function is to maintain traction while you’re driving. This is accomplished with the tread pattern. Good traction is important for your car’s ability to handle and brake as intended, as well as the tire being able to function safely.
Here are some quick guidelines to give you an idea of the condition of your tires.
Check the tread depth
Tread depth can be checked quickly and easily with a penny. If you put the penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head pointing down, the space between the edge of the penny and the top of Lincoln’s head is 2/32 inch. This is the bare minimum amount of tread that tires need in order to function in ideal conditions. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you should consider new tires. For reference, tires need about 5/32 inch in order to maintain traction in the snow and 4/32 inch to prevent hydroplaning in the rain.
Inspect the tread pattern of your tires
Tires sold in the United States, and most of the rest of the world, have features to help you monitor their condition. One feature is referred to as “tire wear bars,” and these bars run across the tread pattern. It is time to replace your tires When the tread on your tire is worn to the point that it is flush with the wear bar.
Look at the wear pattern of your tires
Are your tires more worn on one side than the other? Irregular wear patterns may show that your vehicle is in need of an alignment or a tire rotation. You should consult a service technician as soon as possible to minimize further irregular wear.
Research your legal requirements
States like Washington have legal requirements based on the depth of the tread on your tires as a concern of public safety. In many states, tires are considered worn out at 2/32 inch. If you’re worried about meeting legal requirements, simply check the tread out with a penny.
Inspect the sidewalls of your tires for anything odd
Abnormalities to look for in the sidewall of your tire are any bulges or bubbles. Any deformation to the sidewall of the tire means that there is a structural error in the internal frame of the tire. This allows air pressure to reach the soft, outer layer of the tires and poses a serious risk of a blowout or failure which could easily lead to an accident. Any tires with sidewall bulges should be replaced immediately regardless of the condition of the rest of the tire.
Check the manufacture date of you tires
Tires are composed of materials that have a set lifetime before they can become unreliable, regardless of the level of use or overall condition of the tire. The NHTSA recommends that tires be replaced when they reach 6 years of age due to concerns about the structure. They state that the maximum age of a tire is 10 years. Like many other products, even time on the shelf can have consequences on the performance of your tires. The date of manufacture should be printed on the sidewall of your tires.
Call Fisher Auto in Boulder, Colo., at 303-245-6414 if you have any questions about your tires.