Many people wait too long to replace the tires on their car. They often have reasonable excuses for waiting. Money can be an issue because tires are expensive. Timing can be a problem due to conflicts with work schedules and the tire seller’s business hours. As often as not, not replacing tires at the right time is a matter of paying attention to the tires. With 5 years of auto mechanic experience, here are the main signs I have discovered that mean it is time for a new tire.
Good tires on your car are your first line of road safety.
Think of your tires as your real transportation. If a tire fails, you are not going to travel very far before you have to stop or risk major vehicle damage. Your tires protect you from skidding, jarring, and a host of other potential problems. Take the time to get acquainted with your tires so that you will be aware when it is time to replace them.
Replace any tire that has developed a bulge or bubble.
Bulges and bubbles do not always make themselves apparent when you glance at a tire. You will need to rub the inside and along the tread of each tire to feel for irregularities. Most of the time, a bulge or bubble will first be noticed because the car vibrates noticeably at highway speeds or may seem to wobble at lower speeds. Bulges and bubbles will eventually give you a flat if you are lucky or a blowout if you are not.
If the tire has uneven wear, look for exposed wires protruding through the rubber.
A front end out of alignment can cause a tire to look nearly new on one edge and worn out on the other. If the good part is on the outside, you may miss the fact that it is in bad shape on the inner edge. This normally happens on the front tires. Turn your steering wheel all of the way in one direction and look at your front tires while you can see the entire tread surface. Repeat the process in the other direction to see more of the tread. If there are fibers or metal showing, replace that tire immediately.
Use a penny to check your tires tread wear.
You can use a penny to check the amount of tread on your tires. Point Lincoln’s head downward. The top of his head should not be visible if you have the legal amount of tread. Legal tread depth on tires is 1/16 of an inch. Do this on each line of the tread across the tire. Consider replacing any tire where any tread is approaching this limit.
Make sure that the tire is wearing evenly.
If the tread is too worn, your car can lose traction more easily when it is dry and hydroplane in wet weather. Tread depth also affects stopping distances. More tread on the tire results in shorter stopping distances. This is especially true in wet weather. Tires with uneven wear will not track as well or may pull to one side when driving on straight road. Regular tire rotation and a good front end alignment can help reduce or eliminate uneven tread wear.
Look for cracks in the side walls of older tires.
In reality, you need to check for cracks in the side walls of all tires. Tires more than 4 or 5 years old need to be check more closely. Cracks in the sidewall are indicators that the cap or tread of the tire could let loose while you are traveling at highway speeds. This can result in control issues, vehicle damage, or a blowout. You should replace tires that are cracking on the sidewalls.