March 20, 2020

Signs It’s Time to Change Your Old Tires

Whether you’ve had a flat tire or experienced a tire blow-out while driving, you’re hardly alone. However, many drivers don’t even think about their tires until they have to brake suddenly, or they have a flat tire and can’t drive to work or appointments. But, ignoring tire wear can have serious consequences, including causing a major accident. In fact, a 2013 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that approximately 9 percent of car accidents were tire-related. More recently, in 2017, 738 people were killed in tire-related crashes.

Aging tires

Why Is Tire Replacement So Important?

Tire replacement is key to your safety and the welfare of your passengers. Proper care of your tires also:

  • Increases your car’s fuel economy
  • Ensures smooth driving
  • Improves vehicle handling
  • Makes your tires last longer
  • Provides more control in rain, ice, or snow

What Is Tire Aging?

Before you check the condition of your tires, it’s helpful to understand how tires age. Any rubber begins to break down over time, but heat quickens this process. The rubber in your tires also breaks down over time, which is known as tire aging. While your tires may seem to have a lot of remaining tread, they can still be compromised. Often, the effects of aging aren’t visibly detectable. What’s more, it’s important to understand that your tires age even when you don’t drive your car, and this is a concern for rarely used vehicles and spare tires too.

Check your car owner's manual for tire replacement guidelines for your vehicle. Some manufacturers suggest replacing tires every six years, but driving long distances and other factors will impact when you need new tires. The NHTSA suggests that you look at the sidewall of your tire for the tire identification number, also called the TIN. The last four digits are the week and year they were manufactured. Some older tires may have the TIN on the inside sidewall of the tire.

The best way to protect your car and its passengers is to be proactive and have the car’s tires inspected immediately. If you want to check your car’s tires, here are five important signs that you may need a new set of tires:

1. Your tires are bald. Having bald tires is a common sign that your tires need to be replaced. Remember that certain areas of a tire can look perfectly fine, while other areas are worn down to the cords. Uneven tire wear can be caused by improperly inflated tires, misaligned wheels, or damaged suspension parts. According to tire experts, tires are considered bald when one or more of their grooves reaches 2/32 of an inch deep. This is compared to 10/32 of an inch for brand-new tires. Tire manufacturers have made bald tires much easier to recognize by including molded horizontal bars at the base of the grooves. If you’re not sure your tires are bald, have them checked to determine if they need to be replaced.

Bald tires

2. Your sidewalls are cracked or damaged. Inspect your tires for uneven wear patterns on the tread, cracks, foreign objects stuck in the tread, or any other damage in the sidewalls. Cracks are a telltale sign that the rubber has degraded, which is caused by old tires or improper use. Be proactive and have your tires checked at your next maintenance appointment and each time you have an appointment. Bringing your car in for an inspection at the first signs of tire aging will help save money, too.

3. Your car vibrates when you drive. If the tires are wearing unevenly and causing your car to vibrate, your car may need a tire rotation. Low tire pressure can also cause your vehicle to vibrate when you drive. Vehicle vibration can be caused by other reasons, so have your car inspected if your car vibrates or feels ‘shaky’ when you drive. Your regular maintenance schedule should include rotating the tires and balancing the wheels.

4. Your tire warranty has expired. If your tire warranty has expired, have your tires checked as soon as possible. Doing so can help maintain the safety of your car and its passengers. You’ll rest easy once your car has new tires, and you’ll be a safer driver, too. In addition, you’ll save money on unnecessary repairs if you take good care of your tires.

5. Your tires fail the “penny” test. According to the NHTSA, this simple test can help you determine if it’s time for new tires. Place a penny in the tread of your tires with Lincoln's head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, your tire has less than 2/32” of tread, and you are ready for new tires. You can also check your tires for common treadwear indicators. These are raised sections spaced throughout the bottom of the tread grooves. When these sections appear, it’s time to replace your tires.

Mounting new tire

Remember, whether you have owned a car for a long time or you’re a brand-new driver, it might be time for new tires, even if your tires appear to have adequate tread remaining. With professional tire change service, your car will run more smoothly, you’ll increase the life of your tires, and you’ll have the peace of mind that you’re keeping you and your family safe.

When buying new tires, keep in mind that most tire experts recommend replacing all four tires at the same time. If that’s not possible, you may have to replace two tires at the same time. Always discuss your tire replacement options with the experts at your tire shop. While you’re getting new tires, remember to ask about spare tire replacement as well.

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