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How You Know When You Should Buy New Tires

If any part of your car breaks, the ordeal with definitely ruin your entire day. But you can probably deal with a broken headlight, a broken speedometer or a broken mirror until you’ve fulfilled your obligations for the day—you can’t do the same when one of your tires pops.

But if you replace your tires regularly, you won’t have to deal with this experience very often. Read the warning signs below to know when you should replace your tires. Instead of spending time on the side of the road, you can spend more time with your family and friends.

1. The tread has worn too low.

To prevent hydroplaning and increase traction, your tires have to have 1.6mm of tread. If they have less than that, they’ll slide all over the road, especially in dangerous conditions.

The tread diverts water around your tires, allowing you to drive on wet surfaces. When your tires don’t have enough tread, the water goes underneath them instead, leading to sliding and hydroplaning. You don’t want to wreck your car, and you certainly don’t want to wreck other people’s cars, so plan ahead by buying tires when the tread wears down below 1.6mm.

How Do You Measure It?

You can always use a ruler to measure the depth of the tread in your tires. However, your tires probably don’t wear evenly, especially if people tend to only sit on one side of the car. Measure all of your tires, and measure all around the same tire to ensure you get an accurate assessment of the tread. If you notice any thinning areas, you should think about replacing the tires.

However, you can also use a special tool called a tread depth indicator or gauge to measure the tread. An expert at a tire shop would use a similar tool. Simply place the tool over one of the gaps between the treads and press down until the metre reaches the bottom of the gap. The top of the gauge will indicate the depth of the gap/the height of the tread.

If all else fails, you can take your tires to a shop to have an expert assess them for you.

2. The tread wears unevenly.

Once you’ve checked the tread around the whole tire, make note of any irregularities. You’ll have to replace your tires, but you’ll probably have to pay for a number of other repairs as well. Irregular wear only happens in the presence of additional problems, including:

  • Misalignment
  • Worn suspension parts
  • Manufacturing errors within the tire

Take your car to a mechanic and have him or her check the alignment and suspension. If your car has problems with either, you’ll just have to keep buying new tires over and over until you fix your car’s structural issues.

3. The tires have bubbles and bulges in them.

Tires can wear from the inside out too—especially if they have a manufacturing error. If you notice bubbles and bulges in abnormal places, then the frame on the inside of your tire has cracked. The cracks allow the air pressure on the inside of your tire to reach the softer outer layers of the rubber.

If you continue to drive with bubbles in your tires, the weight of your car will cause a blowout—and a blowout will make you lose control of your car. Avoid an accident by purchasing new tires as soon as bubbles and bulges appear.

4. You haven’t replaced the tires in over six years.

You can safely use your tires for a maximum of 10 years, but you really should try to replace them every six years instead. After six years, the tires will really start to show their age, and the performance and fuel efficiency of your car will suffer. Keep your car in tip-top shape by replacing its tires regularly.

Can’t You Extend the Life of Your Tires?

Yes. You can help your tires last a little longer by using the following tips:

  • Buy the correct tires for your vehicle and rims—they shouldn’t rum against any part of your car
  • Buy tires with a higher tread-wear rating
  • Keep all tires properly inflated to help them wear evenly
  • Drive only on paved surfaces—rocks and debris make them wear faster
  • Don’t exceed the weight-limit of your car (see driver’s manual)
  • Replace tires all at the same time so some tires don’t have to compensate for others
  • Test your tires for wear frequently
  • Rotate your tires if the front ones wear faster than the back ones—but remember to take your car to a mechanic to check for alignment problems.

Take care of your tires as much as you take care of the rest of your car. You’ll save money by not having to purchase tires as often, and you’ll improve the safety and performance of your vehicle.

However, when and if problems with bubbles and tread arise, these tips won’t help. Replace your tires as soon as possible, and enjoy a leisurely driving experience free of unfortunately roadside pit stops.

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