A tire comes with various vital parts that help it give you better service. These rubber contraptions are some of the most important parts of an automobile. Your beautiful car body and the well-oiled engine will quickly become useless if your tires are also not kept in good condition. Being the only part of the vehicle that comes into contact with the road, it is mandatory to keep them in good shape.
What are the characteristics of a good tire?
- Deep tread grooves
- Out of reach wear bars
- Inner tire shoulder tread should be even with the rest of the tire’s tread
- Out of sight tire belts
- Great road traction
- Maintains pressure for a lengthy period
With these few characteristics in mind, Let us now get down to the various ways of checking the condition of your tires;
Tread Wear Indicator
This feature is also known as “the wear bars”. These are shallow ridges found within the tires tread grooves. They can be found in several locations through the tire. They are located at 2/32” groove depth. Once these little ridges are at the same level as the now worn tire treads, your tire is in dire need of a replacement. Basically, if your tire is one equal flat surface, if where there were once ridges, it’s now one flat surface, that tire is no longer road worthy.
The rate at which your tire requires a pressure refill can be a telling sign as to the condition of your tire. The ideal time for this action to be taken varies and therefore there are three common times. Refill your tire pressure every;
- 30 days
- Time there is a change in the temperature by 10 degrees
- The time you refill your gas
If you find that you are refilling more frequently than the above intervals, something might be wrong with your tire. It’s time for a quick visit to the mechanic so he can inspect the inner liner of your tire.
To keep your tires in good condition pressure wise, it is advisable to only fill up when your tire is cold. This means either first thing in the morning or after the vehicle has stayed under a shade for a minimum of 3 hours. Never put pressure in your tire while the rubber is hot.
This term simply refers to the act of moving tires from one position to another. Truth be told, weight distribution in a car is rarely even. Most cars come with a front bonnet fitted to the engine. This metal contraption is definitely very heavy to lug around. The front tires of any such automobile are prone to quick wear. To avoid this, it is required to maintain a tire rotation schedule which will ensure even tire wearing for all tires.
This basically means aligning your tires to make the car drive well. How do you know that it is time for wheel alignment?
- Squealing tires
- Uneven tire wear
- Rapid tire wear
- Crooked steering wheel while you are driving in a straight line
- Vehicle pulling to either side
A car that is not properly aligned drives while the wheels are at a slight angle. This seemingly harmless positioning of your tires is actually slowly digging a hole into your bank account. Letting your vehicle to continue driving while out of alignment will only wear out your tire treads. This will rapidly decrease your traction causing a sooner rather than the later need for a set of new tires.
Those tire grooves are not a fashion statement! No, those strategic ridges are there with a purpose;
- They help keep the tires quiet
- They help with tire performance
- They dispel water
Once you notice that your tires don’t grip the wet or snow filled roads as they used to, it means that your tires are well on their way into retirement. Use all the other methods indicated in this post to further confirm the condition of your tires.
The Penny Test
This is the easiest way to check your tires. Simply hold your penny upside down and insert it in the tire groove with Lincoln’s head facing you. If you can see this president’s entire head, it is time for a tire change. The tread depth in your tire is 2/32” a dangerous level to reach. This test is similar to the Quarter test where you are to repeat the steps and if you can see Washington’s full head, the tire shop should be your next destination.
Visible Tire Belts
These are layers of steel, fiberglass, rayon and other materials. The tire tread covers these strategically placed features, keeping them out of the human eyesight. So if you can see them sticking out of your tires, this is the very definition of “not road worthy” and it’s time for a tire change.
Tires are quite expensive and good maintenance will ensure that they serve you for a long time. Your only worry should not be based on their current price, but also because tires are very vital in maintaining road safety. All the methods mentioned above require a certain degree of commitment;
- Some are free and will take you no time at all, e.g. the penny and quarter test. This method requires only a coin and your eyes so you can judge your tires tread depth. Another one is where you are required to observe your tire’s surface to see if any tire belts are visible.
- Some require you to remain keen and vigilant e.g. Tire Pressure where you are required to keep in mind the frequency with which you refill your pressure. Another such method is Wet Climate where you are required to know the feel of your cars current traction compared to an earlier time.
- Some require a little bit more effort e.g. Wheel Alignment and Tire Rotation. These are precautionary methods that come after a few observations have taken place. These are bound to cost you some coin, but all in all very important to take these precautionary steps.
Regardless of the commitment required, it is vital that you continually apply all the above methods to ensure that you continuously maintain your tire conditions. The more vigilant you are, the better your chances of increasing your tire’s durability. Stay safe and enjoy the long service of your tires.