Your tires may look fine but, then again, they’ve been on your car for a long time. So you might have the nervous thought: Are my tires safe? Luckily, if you’re wondering when to start looking for new tires, there are a few tips that can help you determine whether the tires on your car, SUV, or truck need to be replaced—before they fail.
Check Tread Depth
Your tire’s tread should never fall below 1/16 of an inch or 1.6 millimeters. And if you regularly drive on wet surfaces, you’d be better off with twice that much tread. To check your tread depth and ensure your safety, you can buy a gauge to measure the way the professionals do.
There’s also an old trick that will give you an estimate of how much tread depth you have left, and it won’t cost more than a penny. Take a Lincoln penny, and insert Abe’s head (head-down) into the tread. If Lincoln’s entire head is visible after being placed in the tread, you don’t have enough tread. It’s time to take your car into the mechanic and ask about getting a new set of tires.
Check Tire Pressure
Getting the right air pressure in your vehicle’s tires is crucial for your tire performance, safety, and fuel economy. Fortunately, keeping your tires properly inflated is as easy as checking the PSI and refilling your tires with air. Low pressure can lead to tire damage. By checking and maintaining proper inflation pressure, you can promote tire durability and prolong tread life. So check all your tires once a month (or before a long trip) to ensure your tires have the right amount of air pressure.
Consider The Weather
Whether you use all-season tires or season-specific tires, the weather will always affect your tires. Depending on the weather, there are certain things that you should be watching out for. During the hot summer, your tires may overinflate. In the colder months, you face the opposite problem: underinflation. Most cars are equipped with a system that regularly monitors your tire pressure. The system will alert you if any tires are underinflated, but it doesn’t warn for overinflation. The general rule is that the pressure will change 2% in either direction with every 10-degree shift in air temperature. So regularly check your tire’s pressure and make sure that they are inflated to the levels specified in your owner’s manual.
Consider Tire Quality
Despite advances in tire technology, a tire’s life and quality will vary by car type, tire type (like high-performance or all-season), and even road and weather conditions. Many of today’s tires last 50,000 miles or more before they wear out, but as the saying goes, nothing lasts forever.
And regardless of tread wear, many manufacturers recommend replacing your tires after six to ten years of use. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific tires.