It's way too easy to just forget about your tires and take them for granted...right up to the point where something goes wrong. It's important to keep up on their condition, though, and know what to look for! Here's a quick rundown of the best ways to inspect your tires:
Regularly get a close look at the sidewalls and check for bulges, cracking (some cracking due to age is normal), gouges and scrapes. The sidewalls are pretty tough and can withstand curb scrapes, but use your own judgment as to what constitutes more serious damage. You'll know.
Get a close look at the tread surface and run your hand over it to feel for irregularities. A “feathered” or “sawtooth” feel to the tread face can be an indicator of suspension problems, as is a “cupped” profile. Look at the entire tread face and check for uneven wear on the inside or outside edge – this is a sure sign of alignment problems. If your tires are beginning to wear significantly, be wary of steel belts or fabric cords being exposed. If you spot either, replace that tire right away – it's at risk of failure soon.
Check the tires' tread depth. A special depth gauge is available for this job, but there's a simpler way around it. Take a penny and insert it into the tread groove. Does the rubber surface reach Lincoln's head? If so, your tires are at 2/32” tread depth, the minimum required by state law, and should be replaced soon. Try the coin test again with a quarter and see if the tread surface reaches Washington's head. If so, you tread depth is 4/32”. One more time with the penny – will the tread surface touch the Lincoln Memorial? If so, your tires have 6/32” of tread. Also look for wear indicators, the bars that are molded into the base of the tread at a right angle. If the wear bars are exposed and at the same level as the tread face, your tires need to be replaced right away.
Worn tires ride rougher, handle poorly and will affect braking performance and wet-weather traction. If your tires are at that point, don't delay – make an appointment with us at 106 St Tire & Wheel!