How Can I Tell If My Tires Are in Good Shape?

Car tires only have a certain service life. A vehicle must always have tires that are suitable for normal driving conditions. Many people who live in colder climates have two sets of tires - one for winter and one for the rest of the year. Keeping your tires in good condition is imperative for keeping your car operating as safely as possible; if your have worn treads you won't make as good contact with the ground which will delay braking time. Knowing what to look for in the quality of your tires will let you know when it's time to replace them.

A tire may be unsafe or usable due to several factors:

  • Dry-rot: The tire has good tread, but has cracks in the side walls know as “weather checking” or “dry-rot.” This usually occurs later in the tire’s life and can happen if a vehicle is parked frequently outside in high temperatures.

  • The tires are made of different layers: As the tire gets older, or is damaged, the tire can start to come apart, developing problematic bulges that affect your drivability.

  • Suspension alignment problems: The tires will wear out if the suspension is aligned incorrectly, which can pose a serious safety hazard.

To keep your tires in good health, the following routine maintenance activities are a must:

  • Check your tire tread to detect wear: Try the penny test. Insert it in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside-down. If you cannot see Lincoln’s hair, then your tread is in good health. Consider new tires if you see his hair, and replace them if you see his head.

  • Look for tread-wear indicators: These are bars of hard rubber that only appear on worn-down tires. If these indicators appear in two or three places, it’s time to replace your tire.

  • Look for items lodged in the tire: These can include nails, small stones, or thumb tacks. If you hear a hissing sound when you pull out a nail, push it back in quickly and get the tire fixed. Tires with leaks should be patched by a professional.

  • Look at the sidewalls: Check for scuffed or worn areas, bulges, and holes.

Read more about knowing when to replace a tire and be sure to have a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, inspect the tires for uneven wear to check that your vehicle is in need of new tires.


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Robert

32 years of experience
191 reviews
Robert
32 years of experience
Buick Electra V6-3.8L - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Sunnyvale, California
Damn good mechanic. Clearly communicates all issues that even a layman can get it. Courteous and professional!
Mazda 6 - Headlight Bulb Replacement (Passenger Side Low Beam) - Saratoga, California

Patrick

15 years of experience
406 reviews
Patrick
15 years of experience
Honda Accord L4-2.2L - Uneven tire wear - Richmond, Virginia
Islam was very friendly and professional. He showed up on time, listened to my concerns, explained things clearly and gave me recommendations. Thank you!

Robert

20 years of experience
1089 reviews
Robert
20 years of experience
Saturn SL2 L4-1.9L - Uneven tire wear - Denver, Colorado
Robert was fantastic!! He didn't mind me asking questions and he fully explained what he was doing and what issues he saw with my car. He really took his time addressing all my concerns. I would HIGHLY recommend Robert!

Charles

34 years of experience
342 reviews
Charles
34 years of experience
Lexus ES300 V6-3.0L - Uneven tire wear - Austin, Texas
convenient and thorough

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