According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tire failure causes around 11,000 car crashes each year. The NHTSA recommends doing a quick tire inspection once a month or more often. Safety should be the topmost priority in one’s list and you should regularly check the tires of your vehicle to ensure safe driving.
There are various signs which indicate you need new tires. Some of them are:
- Tread Depth: The tread on your tires should never fall below 1/16 of an inch (1.6 millimeters) in depth. You should be especially careful if you regularly drive on slick, wet surfaces.
- Tread Wear: Most modern tires have tear bars: bits of rubber woven into the pattern at a specific depth. These bars, invisible or barely visible when the tires are new, gradually begin to appear as the tread wears down. Tread wear can also be checked using the Lincoln-head penny test. Place a penny into the tread head- down. If you can see Lincoln’s entire head, you don’t have enough tread and it’s time to get new tires.
- Bulges or cracks: When a tire deflates, it bulges at the sides. Grooves, track and cuts are visible to naked eyes. So regular check up can reduce this risk. When the outer surface weakens, bulges are formed on the outside of the tire and this turns out to be a weak point which can blow out causing major risk to the people in the vehicle and those around it.
- Vibration: Too much vibration can be due to misaligned or unbalanced tires. The vibration or shake generally begins at 40 to 50 mph and becomes more intense as you go faster. This could also mean that your shock absorbers are not performing.
- Temperature changes: Temperature has a direct connection with the tire pressure. In low temperatures, the pressure inside the tire is also low. But during summers, the pressure inside the tire builds up. So, avoid travelling long distances at a stretch during hot climate, and sufficient time should be given for the tires to cool down. If the air inflation is low, it can cause more heat buildup.
- Tire pressure: Tires deflate at a rate of about one pound per square inch (PSI) per month. Every tire manufacturer provides its optimum or recommended tire pressure which is usually between 30 to 35 PSI. This should be measured when the tire is cold. The reason you check them cold is that as tires roll along the road, friction between them and the road generates heat, increasing tire pressure.
- Exposure to elements: Exposure to heat and the sun’s ultraviolet rays may cause structural changes to your tires. These changes are not usually a concern in moderate climates.
But even after taking any precautions, every tire manufacturer company provides an expiry date of the tires post which, it is always advisable to replace it with a new tire. It is recommended to replace your tires in sets of four for all vehicles. All four tires should be the same size, brand, tread design, construction and tread depth to prevent differences in the outer diameter of each tire. Even small differences may cause drivetrain damage or mechanical malfunction.