Tire health is an important part of car maintenance. Bald, patchy tires are an eyesore, but more importantly, they make driving more difficult and less safe for everyone on the road! But if damage isn’t visible to the naked eye, how do you tell when it’s time to swap your old rubber for some fresh, new wheels?
Replacing by Tread Depth
There are two standard ways to tell when you need to replace your tires—the first is by their tread depth. New tires typically have a tread depth of 10/32-11/32 of an inch, but as they wear down, your car’s traction decreases, making it riskier to drive in slick conditions.
How fast your tires wear down depends on several things, like how often you drive, road quality, and weather conditions, but the general rule of thumb for replacement is this: shop for new tires at 4/32 of an inch, and replace them immediately at 2/32 of an inch.
If you’re not keen on breaking out your ruler, there’s an easy way to check your tread depth: the quarter test. Put a quarter into one of the center-most treads with George Washington’s head pointing down toward the tire. If the top of Washington’s head is covered by the tread, your tires are over 4/32 of an inch; if the top of his head is visible, your tread depth is below 4/32 of an inch, and you should start looking for replacements.
Replacing by Age
Over time, the rubber of your tires dries out, which could lead to a crack, blowout, or flat. To avoid this, manufacturers recommend tires should generally be replaced every six years.
If you’re not sure how old your tires are, check the Department of Transportation code on the sidewall of the tire. The code will usually be preceded by “DOT,” followed by some other letters and numbers—the only code you need is the last four digits. Within this code, the first two numbers represent the week the tire was made, and the last two numbers represent the year the tire was made. The code “1518,” for example, would denote the tire was made in the 15th week of 2018.
Keep in mind, if your treads are worn down, your tires need to be replaced, no matter their age, and vice versa; if your tires are over six years old, they need to be replaced, even if their tread depth is fine.
Increasing Tire Longevity
Worn, old tires can make your car harder to handle, cause difficulty braking, and decrease your grip on the road, so it’s important, both for the safety of you and others on the road, not to put off replacement. If you find your tires wearing faster than they should, try these tips on your new set.
Check your tire pressure once a month and before long drives. Low pressure causes more heat to build within the tires, quickening tread wear.
Rotate your tires every 5,000-8,000 miles to ensure even wear.
Check your alignment and tire balance. Even seemingly small imbalances can wear tires faster.
Avoid sudden stops, squealing accelerations, and fast turns—all cause unnecessary wear to your wheels.
When it’s time to start shopping for new tires, the options may seem overwhelming. No kind of tire is right for every car; the correct decision will depend on how often you drive, seasonal conditions, and the kinds of roads you traverse. New tires can be expensive, too, but at Advanced Repair, we’re dedicated to getting you the best deal on the best tires for your car—and the best maintenance to go along with it.
Stop in to Advanced Repair today tire replacement or maintenance, or request an appointment online.