When is it Time to Replace Your Car's Tires? | Weston Auto Repair
As a Fort Collins resident, you know that your car's tires are an essential foundation of its safety, handling, and fuel economy. But replacing old tires can be a costly business, and it's natural to put it off for as long as possible. How do you know when your tires are starting to wear out and may be risking your safety? Here are the six vital points to look out for.
1) Check the Tread Depth
The tread of a tire is the set of grooves cut into the rubber that increases grip, channeling water and dust away from under the wheels to ensure reliable contact and traction. In most states, there's a minimum legal depth for the tread, with the majority of jurisdictions specifying at least 1/16th of an inch. Check the tread depths in several places on each tire, and if any are getting close to the minimum, it's time to book an inspection to avoid the risk of driving illegally.
2) Uneven Wear
But even if all the treads meet the minimum depth, if some areas are noticeably more worn than others then handling and braking will become much more unpredictable. In many cases, uneven tire wear is a sign of suspension or wheel alignment problems, but in any case, it's best to get things checked out before the wear turns into dangerous bald spots.
3) Blisters or Bulges
After examining the treads, take a look at the smoother parts of the tire, particularly on the angle where the flat roadside part turns vertical. Any blisters or bulges here can quickly escalate into a blowout, so get the tires checked out sooner rather than later to avoid an incident.
4) Cracking and Weathering
Next, look for any fine lines or cracks on the sides of the tire. These will naturally appear over time through driving and exposure to the elements, but if left unattended can turn into splits and eventual tire failure.
5) Vibrations and Juddering
If you notice any strange vibrations or juddering while you're driving, it could be because of a misaligned tire inner. One tell-tale sign to look for is when the vibration is slow and bumpy at low speeds, but then increases in frequency the more you accelerate. And while this problem is usually fairly easy to fix, it could also be something more serious such as failing shock absorbers, so it's important to get it looked at as soon as you can.
6) Keep an Eye on Tire Pressure
It's important to keep your tires correctly inflated for the best performance and safety, so checking the pressure every month or so is a sensible idea. But if you notice that the pressure needs topping up more often than usual, it's likely a sign of a slow puncture or a faulty valve. In either case, booking a tire service will isolate the cause so that it can be fixed.
7) Tire Age
Lastly, even if the tires seem to be in good condition, age is an important factor in their performance and safety. The compound used in modern tires slowly degrades over time, and after five to six years a new set is generally recommended no matter how much or how little the tires have been used. Every tire is stamped on the side with its date of manufacture, so if your tires are more than five years old, booking an inspection will help you decide whether a replacement might be a wise move.
It's not worth risking your car's safety through worn-out tires. As soon as you spot any of these signs, book an inspection at your local auto repair shop, and put your mind at rest that your tires are performing as well as they should.