According to the NHTSA, properly inflated tires can save car owners up to 11 cents per gallon on fuel. But only 19 percent of car owners properly inflate their tires.
In addition to poor inflation, tires take a significant beating over time due to several reasons, including your driving environments. That doesn’t mean you’re bad driving; it’s just one of the many facts of life. The road wears out your tires, just as bad shoes will wear out your feet.
For your convenience, we have compiled a list of how to tell if you need new tires.
1. How Old Are Your Tires
The Biggest question you want to ask yourself is, how old are your tires? Most manufacturers suggest changing your tires every 6-10 years. It feels like a waste, but this is still a rule even if your tread wear is still good.
So, if your tires are about to celebrate their 10th birthday, instead of baking them a cake and inviting over the family, it might be time to trade them in for new ones.
2. Tread Depth
The tread on your tires should never fall below 1/16th of an inch. You’ll need more than this if you’re driving on a slick surface.
To check this, you can go to your local automotive store and pick up a gauge to measure the tread depth.
If you do this, and the reading looks like a foreign language to you, there is another way to tell.
3. Penny Test
The penny test is a simpler to read than the gauge. All you have to do is take a penny out of your change jar or your kid’s piggy bank (no judgments here) and place it head-down onto the tread.
If Lincon’s whole head is still visible, it’s time to take your car to the local tire place and get new ones.
4. Tread Wear
Newer tires have this remarkable feature called tread bars. These bars are a good indicator of how to tell if you need to change your tires.
Each has a treadwear grade number printed on the side wall. These grades are given by the manufacturer to give you a basic idea of the life of the tire. Your own driving habits impact this though. If you break too hard or tow heavy equipment, this number is probably off.
Some have bars that aren’t really visible until you start driving. When you can see more than two of the bars than you need to, trade them out.
5. Rubber Cracks
The elements play a huge factor in the life of your tires. Cracks will appear on tires that are often used in harsh environments.
Things like acid rain and extreme temperatures will erode the tires, causing cracks to form. Tires have protection against these things, but that protection doesn’t last forever, and eventually, they give in to the harsh environment.
Sometimes surface cracks appear, you don’t have to worry too much about them. It’s only when the cracks go deeper into the rubber that you have a problem.
You can control this slightly. The more you drive your car, the more you stretch out the elasticity of the rubber. The tires will give in to the elements one day, but this will prolong it a little.
Paying attention when you’re driving is a big way to tell if you need new tires. Bumpy roads are a thing, but what’s unnatural is an excess of it.
If you’ve been driving for a while, chances are you know what kind of vibration is normal and which is a danger sign. It’s also common sense that if you’re driving on a smooth road and suddenly you feel a vibration, then there is a problem.
Heavy bumps could also indicate that your air pressure is low. Pull over to your nearest convenience store to check it out.
7. Low Air Pressure
It’s vital that you can tell when your air pressure is low. Tires that are full are round, while ones that have low air pressure tend to sag toward the bottom.
If you feel your car start to get a little bumpy and discover that it’s low air pressure, fill the tire but keep an eye on it.
In a few days, if the tire is looking sad and saggy again, that’s an indicator that your tire is slowly losing air and it might be time to replace it. Sometimes it’s just a rim leak.
Rim leaks aren’t the end of the world. You can take it to your nearest discount tire place, and they can patch it up for you instead of you replacing the tire.
8. Bubbles Appear
There are times when the outer surface of the tire begins to weaken causing bumps and bubbles to form.
These weak spots can cause you to have a blow out in the middle of the freeway so you might want to get them checked out as soon as possible. A blow out in the middle of the highway can be life-threatening.
9. Tires Are Deflating Faster
If you try to extend the life of your tires by filling them with air, and they keep deflating every few days, it’s time to throw in the towel.
You don’t want this to become a problem later. You really need to check your air pressure once a month or so. If each month the same tire is giving you problems, there’s no saving it.
10. Other Wear And Tear
There are many factors involving the wear and tear on tires. If you live on a gravely road, the sharp little rocks are like needles to your tires. They will seriously damage them over time.
There is also the obvious, running over a nail will put a stop in any tire.
If you feel any unusual shifting or stalling, this is less of your tires going bad and more of a transition problem. If that’s the case, we can help you figure that out.
11. How To Tell If You Need New Tires
The best way of how to tell if you need new tires is listening to your car. Unusual bumps aren’t normal, and neither are large cracks.
Make sure to trade in your old tires before you have a blow out in the middle of the road. It’s a safety hazard to you, and everyone else on the road.
Checking your tires is an integral part of routine maintenance. If you aren’t sure what that entails, no worries. We have a list of everything you need to know.