Proper tire maintenance is extremely important. Old or worn tires can cause you to lose control on the highway, putting you and anyone nearby at risk. Tire maintenance, therefore, is not an option. So, what are the signs that your tires need attention?
Low Tread Depth
How deep are your treads? Worn treads are a sign that you need new tires. Because you can't always discern low treads with the naked eye, try the penny test. Place a penny in the tread, with Lincoln facing you. He should be upside down. The tread should cover some of Lincoln's head. If you can see his entire head, the tire needs to be replaced.
Even if your tread isn't worn, you may still need new tires. Why? Because rubber naturally deteriorates over time. If you drive, say, half as much as the average driver, your treads will wear down at a much slower rate. However, the rubber in your tires is still deteriorating at the normal rate. Check manufacturer and automaker recommendations to learn how long your tires should last. This number differs from company to company. Tire manufacturers like Michelin say a tire can last up to 10 years. However, automakers like Mercedes-Benz recommend replacing tires after six years.
Other factors, like heat and use, also play a role. If you live in a warmer climate, the rubber in your tires may deteriorate at a faster rate. Similarly, lack of use shortens tire life. If you keep your car in storage for half the year, its tires will wear down at a much faster rate than if you drove it daily. To check your tires' age, look for the DOT code. The DOT code is made up of 14 characters, both numbers and letters, and it's located on the sidewall of each tire. The last four digits indicate the week and year the tire was made. So, if the numbers are 2613, the tire was manufactured in the 26th week of 2013.
Cracks & Bulges
Cracks on the tire sidewall are usually easy to spot, but you should also look for cracks within the tread. If you spot cracks anywhere, it's a sign that the rubber is aging and blowout may be imminent. The same is true if you spot a bulge, which indicates a slow leak or low tire pressure. Cracks and bulges are both urgent signs of a looming blowout. Don't ignore them.
Your Tires Aren't Par for the Course
If you've just gotten an alignment and your car still won't drive in a straight line, worn tires could be to blame. Strange vibrations, coming from places like under your seat or in the steering wheel, are also signs that your tires require immediate attention.
As your tire tread wears down, it leaves the tire increasingly vulnerable to punctures. If you've been picking up an unusual amount of nails on the highway, the culprit might be a worn-out tire. Instead of continuing to repair, you might consider replacing your tires instead.
Whatever the signs, don't let your tire issues go unresolved. Bald or worn tires are extremely dangerous and may even cause a life-threatening accident. For more information on tire replacement, check in with your local dealership.