Taking care of your car is important if you want it to last and work efficiently, and one of the necessary parts that need maintenance is the tires. The state of your tires could be a matter of life or death in certain situations. You should check the condition of your tires regularly ? at least once a month ? and when you do, these are the things you should check:
Tread is designed to disperse water from the contact patch, thereby helping the tyre grip the road. Worn down tires don’t grip onto the road as easily, which means you’re at risk of skidding if you break or drive on a slippery road. The current law for tyre treads is that it must be a minimum of 1.6mm. However, this law was put into action in the 90s, when tires were much thinner, so it’s always better to be on the safe side these days. Cars and tires have changed a lot since then and only a few mm of wear can be the difference between life and death.
If your tread falls below 3mm you could skid a length of 10 cars after braking, which doesn’t do any good if you’re breaking to avoid on obstacle or follow a sharp turn. At 5mm, however, the car’s stopping length decreases by 9 meters. That’s more than enough length to brake safely.
Some tires have tread bars to help you know when they need replacing. These are small, raised tabs in the grooves of the tread. If the tread bars and tread are at the same level then your tyre is severely worn and needs replacing. If your tires don’t have tread bars then you could always check your tread with a penny. Place the penny in between the ribs of your tread with Lincoln’s head facing down. If the penny goes far enough for Lincoln’s hair to be hidden then you need to get new tires. If the tread is just touching the top of Lincoln’s hair then you should at least look into getting your tires replaced soon.
If you live somewhere that has extreme changes in weather then you might also consider getting tires that are appropriate for the seasons. If the roads are icy Winter Car Tires just might save your life. If you didn’t know that tread was important for wet roads then you have no idea what would happen if you drove on worn down tires on an icy road.
Tires can rotate and become misaligned without us noticing, but it can have pretty dangerous consequences. Certain areas of your tires might wear faster than others, which can be misleading when you’re checking how worn they are. If your tires are worn on one side it could mean that your wheels aren’t parallel. If they’re worn on both sides but not in the middle it could mean that your tires are underinflated. Checking the areas of wear on your tires is the key to keeping your car in top working order.
Another reason why you should check the evenness of your tire is because a half worn tire can be just as dangerous as a completely worn tire. The area of contact between your tires and the road is usually only the size of your hand. If you need to brake and the weight of your car is resting on a worn portion of your tire you could end up skidding. You never know how well your tires will grip the road until an emergency occurs, so check and rotate them regularly and don’t ignore uneven wear.
Punctures, blisters and lacerations will deflate your tires, which can be incredibly dangerous. Even if you can’t see any obvious punctures you should check you’re the inflation pressure of your tires often to make sure there isn’t any damage. Tires that are underinflated will wear quickly and compromise your steering. Because deflation can happen pretty quickly and suddenly you should check you’re the inflation pressure once every two weeks or before any long journeys. The handbook that comes with your car should tell you the recommended pressure for your tires.
The time it takes before your tires need replacing also tells a lot about your driving style or the condition of your car. If they wear down too quickly it might mean that you break and corner too forcefully/aggressively; drive too quickly; the tires aren’t aligned evenly; or the tires are over inflated. Although these might not necessarily be things you feel the need to be concerned with, sometimes this information can be useful and help you tailor your driving to make your car lasts longer or you can improve its performance. The better you treat your car the less often you will need to replace your tires.