WARNING SIGNS YOU NEED NEW TIRES
1. THEY SIMPLY DON’T GRIP
Some tires can be brand new but feel like you’re driving on ice, even when the road’s perfectly dry. What’s most important for tires is that you feel safe while you’re behind the wheel. A car equipped with summer-only tires won’t perform well in wintery conditions, even when the tires are brand new. If the tires your vehicle has on it right now don’t get you the grip you need to feel confident, change them.
2. AN ILL-PLACED PUNCTURE
Most punctures in the tread section can be repaired, and only the combination plug-patch is an approved repair according to the Tire industry Association. But some punctures are in an area that flexes too much, near the shoulder, or in the sidewall and can’t be safely repaired. As well, punctures that are more than ¼-inch in diameter or close enough that the patches will overlap just aren’t going to work. Unfortunately, a puncture in the wrong place condemns a tire to being replaced.
3. THE TREAD IS WORN DOWN
The most prevalent indicator for when your car needs a new tire is tread depth. Evenly worn, your car should always have at least 2/32nds of an inch tread depth remaining in all sections on the tire – more is even better. This measurement is taken from the wear bars – a small section between tread blocks that’s raised slightly.
Take measurements across the tread and around the circumference. If your tread is at or below 2/32nds, it’s time to replace the tires.
4. UNEVEN TREAD WEAR
Mechanical issues will affect your car’s tires. If the alignment is out of spec, there are loose steering parts, or you have worn suspension components, it can put added strain on your tires or change the angle at which they touch the road. If that’s the case on your vehicle, you may notice an inside or outside shoulder has much more wear than the center tread section or a condition known as feathering where the tread blocks wear in an odd shape. As well, over-inflated or under-inflated tires can wear the center section or the shoulders respectively.
5. BULGES OR CUTS
Nicks and scratches in the rubber are no big deal, but a bulge or a cut is. A bulge happens when air gets between the inner liner and the outer rubber layers, usually caused by curb impact or a death-defying pothole. Cuts can be anything from road debris to vandalism, and a cut that’s deeper than the outer layer is too deep to be driven on safely.
6. CRACKS BETWEEN TREAD BLOCKS
As tires age, the rubber dries out. Cracks are normal to see as fine lines between the tread blocks, on the shoulder, and on the sidewalls. It’s known as dry-rot, and it’s spurred on primarily by the sun’s UV rays. When those cracks get wider and wider, to the point where you can either peel bits of rubber off or get the ballpoint of a pen in it, the tire should definitely be replaced.
7. STEEL OR FABRIC CORDS ARE SHOWING
Inside your tire, Kevlar, cotton, or synthetic fabric strands are used to help it maintain its shape and reinforce its strength. Steel cords are crucial for helping keep the tire in the right shape as well as provide rigidity in key areas like the bead. These are structural components in the tire, and if you can see them, there’s a big problem with the tire. Odds are you’ve already missed the earlier warning signs and the tire is in dangerous, unsafe condition to be driven on.