A vehicle’s tires play a crucial role in a car’s safety. As the only parts of the car that physically touch the ground, they are one of the key factors affecting a vehicle’s handling and braking, and overall highway safety. What steps can you take to ensure that your tires stay in optimal condition? Performing regular checks is quick and easy, and a worthwhile investment of time in your and your family’s safety.
Trouble signs to look for
Visually inspect your tires on a regular basis. If you note any of the following early warning signs, have a professional inspection performed, check and correct items that may be causing the condition, or replace your tires.
- Cracking or cuts in the sidewalls.
- Uneven tread wear. This can be caused by improper inflation, misaligned wheels, damaged tires, or by problems with suspension parts.
- Excessively worn tread. Most modern tires have tread-wear indicator bars running across the tread, which signal the minimum allowable tread depth of 1/16-inch. When the tread wears down to these bars, it’s time for new tires. Inexpensive tread-wear gauges are available at auto-parts and tire stores.
- Alternatively, you can use a Lincoln-head penny as a tread-wear indicator. Insert the penny into a tire groove with Lincoln’s head toward the tire. If you can see the top of Abe’s head, the tread is too worn.
- Bulges or blisters. If you see a bulge or blister on the sidewall, replace the tire at once. These signal potential weak spots that could lead to tire failure.
- Excessive vibration. Tire vibration may be a sign a wheel is misaligned, unbalanced, or bent. It could also signify internal tire damage. Don’t ignore vibration: Have the vehicle serviced at once.
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Source: Consumer Reports