No matter how well you take care of your tires; getting a replacement is inevitable. Constant driving, bad road conditions, changing weather, and time can all take a toll on your tires and cause irreparable damage. Or sometimes, your tires’ life span is simply up.
It’s vital to change your tires when the time comes. Damaged tires have caused many fatal accidents over the years, and you don’t want to cause one or have one happen to you.
Get your tires (or entire car, for that matter) checked by a mechanic to know when you need new ones. Or you can look for these telltale signs it’s time to replace your tires.
Visible Tire Tread Indicators
If you’re driving a new car, you’re lucky to have this new feature on your tires. As the name suggests, tire-tread indicators tell you if the treads are already worn-out enough to get replacement tires.
Tire tread indicators are almost, if not completely, invisible when your tires and treads are new. They become increasingly visible the more you drive your car and wear down the treads. The indicators look like a broken line running perpendicular to the treads. They appear like the bars displaying the battery of your phone, except they appear when your tires’ time is up
Another way to tell if the treads are worn-out is the penny or quarter test. You insert a penny or quarter into the treads, with Abraham Lincoln’s or George Washington’s head first.
If Lincoln’s whole head is nearly visible, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inches, and your tires need to be replaced. If you’re using a quarter and Washington’s head touches the tread, you still have 4/32 inches of tread depth, and your tires should be good for a while.
Cracks on Sidewalls
Tires can sustain damage from changes in weather, temperatures, and seasons. The heat, cold, water, ice, and snow can wear down the rubber material of tires, causing cracks to develop on sidewalls.
Cracks on sidewalls can be dangerous because they may result in leaks on your tires or even cause your tires to blow up. Fortunately, it’s easy to spot them if you diligently check the sidewalls of your tires. When you notice cracks, marks, or grooves on your tire sidewalls, take your car to a mechanic immediately to have your tires checked and replaced.
It’s natural to feel vibrations or shaking when you’re driving especially on a rocky road. However, if you’re used to driving, you know when the vibrations are no longer normal.
High-frequency vibrations can be a sign that your tires are misaligned or unbalanced. It can also be that the shock absorbers on your car are no longer doing their job. But it can also possibly be caused by a severed or shifted tire “belts” or inner cord.
If you’re feeling abnormal shaking or lumpy when you’re running at a slow speed and excessive vibration at high speeds, you better get your tires and car checked now.
Bulges and Blisters
There’s a reason most drivers avoid potholes (and you should too), and it’s not just because it’s uncomfortable. The impact of driving into one is damaging to your tires. The same goes for hitting curbs. Significant impact on your tires can cause bulges and blisters to develop on the surface.
A manufacturer’s defect can also cause bulges, or they can be due to air where it’s not supposed to be, like between the inner liner and outer material of your tires. If you notice bulges on your tires, get them checked by a mechanic immediately. A bulge can rupture at any time when you’re driving and cause a fatal accident.
Life Span of Tires
When your tires’ deadline is up, it’s time to get replacements. Most manufacturers recommend tires to be changed every 5 to 6 years (10 years at most regardless of condition). If you know how to read the information on the sidewalls of your tires, you’ll know the manufacturing date or year, size, load index, and speed rating of your tires.
Don’t wait until for visible damage or wear before you get your aged tire checked and replaced. Sometimes, the marks of time can’t be seen by the naked eye, but that doesn’t make them nonexistent.
Protecting Your Tires
Avoid practicing bad driving habits, like driving on potholes, bumping on curbs, and ignoring speed bumps. All these can damage your tires and result in shortening their lifespan. Driving on flat or loose tires is not only harmful to your car but also extremely dangerous to you and other drivers.
Before leaving your house, you should make sure that your tires have enough pressure (consult your manufacturer’s manual if you don’t know how much is enough), and check if they’re attached securely.
If you drive a large vehicle, like an SUV or a truck, consider installing fender flares to cover your tires. Fender flares can cover up dirt and mud stains on the wheel well. In some state, big vehicles are required to have them by law to prevent debris or rocks disturbed by your tires to hit vehicles behind you. There are custom fender flares available in the market for big cars, like the Toyota Tundra, Dodge Ram, or Ford Ranger.
Take time out of your busy schedule to check your tires. Remember that, if you drive with damaged tires, you’re not just risking your life; you’re also putting the lives of other road users in danger.
You only need to spare a few minutes of your day to check for the signs, like weathering, worn-out treads, and bulges and blisters. If you notice any of or all these signs, don’t delay, and get your tires replaced. You can never reverse an accident after it happens.