You’re driving with the family to a nice dinner in Omaha when the car in front of you stops suddenly. You hit the brakes, and what happens next could depend on your tires. As the only parts of your car that have direct contact with the road, tires have a big impact on the ride, handling, braking, and safety.
Continue reading to learn when it’s time to replace worn tires.
What Are the Signs That I Need New Tires?
Each tire features wear bars, which are little bridges between the tread ridges. When these bars appear level with the tread, you typically have 1/16” of tread remaining, which means it’s time to replace the tire.
You can also take a penny and insert it into the center tread with Abraham Lincoln’s head down. If the tread reaches Abe’s forehead, you still have tread left. If the tread meets his hair or there’s space between the tread and his head, it’s time to replace the tire.
Over- or under-inflating the tires can cause uneven wear. Overinflation will round out the tire, causing the center tread to wear more quickly. Under-inflating the tire will make the outer edges contact the road more.
If you see alternating high and low spots in the tread — referred to as cupping or scalloping— there could be a problem with the vehicle’s shock absorbers or suspension.
When you check the tire pressure or are inflating the tires, inspect them for any physical damage. Cuts, slashes, or bulging on the sidewall weaken the tire quickly, so it’s important to replace it.
Tires are primarily made of rubber, which wears down over time. If you notice wires or fabric cording sticking out through the tires, the rubber is wearing down, and it’s time to replace the tire.
Vibrations or thumping
While you drive, do you feel a vibration or hear thumping? There could be a few causes to blame:
- A tire could be out of balance
- There could be a flat area in the tread from emergency braking
- The tire could have a separated belt
Pulling to one side
If you feel like you’re constantly fighting to keep the car straight because it’s pulling to one side, there could be an underinflated or damaged tire on that side of the car.