Driving on tyres that are bald or badly worn greatly increases your chance of getting a flat or a blowout and is especially dangerous when the roads are wet or slick. Don’t put off buying new tyres when you need them – your safety is at stake!
On average, tyres need to be replaced every 40,000 miles but the exact mileage depends on the type of tyre and car and what kind of driving you do.
Tyre wear can also tell you what’s going on with your car’s steering, suspension and tyre pressure. Here are some tips on checking and interpreting tire wear:
– Check your tyres outdoors where the lighting is good. Visually inspect all four tyres.
– Remember that under normal driving conditions, all four tyres should wear evenly.
– Check for even tread wear by using a tread-depth gauge. The depth of the tread (the grooves in the tyres) should be even on all parts of the tire. Another way to check for tire wear (although not as accurate) is to stick a penny into the grooves, with Lincoln’s head pointing into the tire. If you can see the top of his head, it’s time to buy new tires.
– Let some air out of your tyres if there is wear down the middle and not on the sides – there’s too much air in them. Add air to tyres with wear on both the inside and outside edges – there’s not enough air in them.
– Bring your car to an alignment shop for a front-end or four-wheel alignment if your tyres are worn on one side or the other. And don’t forget to get a front-end or four-wheel alignment if you are in an accident, even if it was just a fender bender. If anything is out of alignment, it will affect your tyres’ wear.
– Run your hand lightly over the tread surface of each tyre. If the treads feel bumpy or scalloped, even if the tread is still deep, you may need new shock absorbers or struts.
– Check the tire pressure in all four tires and the spare tire at least once a month. The recommended tire pressure is listed in your car’s manual, stamped on the side of the tire and is often printed on a sticker on the driver’s-side doorjamb. When in doubt, 32 psi (pounds per square inch) is a good average until other sources can be consulted.
– You should always carry a tire pressure gauge in your car. The outside temperature can alter the air pressure in your tires and allow them to wear out prematurely. Think preventive maintenance and it could save you money in the long run.
– Tires never wear evenly, even if the car is properly aligned. Rotate tires at least every 6000 miles to spread the wear on all four tires.
– If you feel a shimmy or wobble in the steering wheel or in the rear of the car with no evident tire wear, chances are the steel radial belt may be separating. Have the suspect tire checked by qualified professionals. A shimmy or wobble could also indicate tires that need to be balanced. Scalloped edges can indicate the same thing.