When Do I have to Replace These Tires?

By Glen Palick

A tire is not a friend for life. Sooner or later your car tires are going to need replacing. When that happens is not such an easy question to answer, and it is dependant on a number of variables, such as how often you drive, how fast, and the road and weather conditions your tires experience.

The first inkling that tires might need changing could come from a visual inspection. They should always be checked for cuts, cracking and dry rot. If you dont have confidence in them, change them.

The tread depth will scream out if the tire needs changing. Not literally of course but there will be obvious patterns of wear. Simply put the tread depth is the gap between the tire treads, the grooves that cover the circumference of the tire. The importance of good tread depth cannot be over estimated as worn tires pose a huge risk to you and other uses of the road.

The problems will come particularly in the cold, the wet, or icy conditions of winter. Worn tires ensure that the car wont be as effective in steering, accelerating and braking. Many drivers are unaware of the their minimum tire tread depth. According to the laws of many states in the USA, tires are worn out when they have worn down to 2/32 of remaining tread depth. Well unless youre an expert how are you meant to know that? Some modern cars have a warning light that will tell you, but if your cars not equipped heres how.

An often used method is the Lincoln Penny Test. Its considered by many to be a perfect, and cheap way of checking tire wear. Insert a Lincoln penny with the top of the former presidents head into the grooves of several treads. If part of Lincolns head is covered by the tire then you have more than 2/32 left and do not need to replace it. If you can see above his head, then its a trip down to the tire store.

Another way of finding out if your tires are saying replace me is by looking at the pattern of wear on the tire treads. As you zip along the freeway, the speed of your vehicle generates heat which causes the tires to deform. Over time theyll become worn out and the tread will diminish.

One obvious way of noticing is that your car will not have as much control and grip on the road, but ideally youd like to find out long before that happens. Most manufacturers put wear and tread bars on their tire treads, usually a raised lump between the tread of the tires that indicate its life. When the tire is worn down to these, its time to change them. Or for less than $20 invest in a Tire Tread Depth Gauge, which does exactly what it says on the tin.

You may also need to replace your tires if there is an alignment problem. You should easily be able to spot that because your car will keep moving over to the left or the right, when you are trying to drive straight down a road. - 29952

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