Sometimes, it’s easy to tell when your car needs a new tire. However, old, worn out tires can also
perform reasonably well, even past their recommended lifespan. So, how do you know when it’s
time to get new tires?
Consider these signs it could be time to purchase a new set:
- Sidewall cracks or bulges. Visible cracks and bulges in the sidewalls of your tires are an
indicator that all is not well. In fact, these issues can indicate that your tire has a slow
leak and may be susceptible to blowouts in the future. Have a professional inspect your
tires for other damage.
- Tread wear indicator bars. Newer tires have wear indicator bars embedded within the
tread to help consumers determine when tires have reached the end of their lifespan.
Look for a flat, rubber bar running perpendicular to the tread. If more than two of these
are showing on a particular tire, that tire may need replacing.
- Tread below 1/16th of an inch. Even if you can’t see signs of tread wear indicator bars,
it’s fairly easy to check your tires for low tread. Most auto supply stores carry simple
tread measurement tools. However, if you don’t have a tread measurement tool, you can
use a regular, Lincoln penny to test your tread depth. Insert the penny into the tread, and
note how much of Lincoln’s head is still showing; if you can see the entire head, it’s time
to begin looking for new tires.
- Excessive vibration. If you’re noticing new, excessive vibration that seems unusual for
your vehicle, your tires may be the culprit. Alternatively, your alignment may be at fault,
but a poorly aligned car will cause tires to wear unevenly and eventually present
problems with the tires themselves.
In general, tires that are more than five years old should be inspected frequently for the above
problems. Tires more than ten years past the manufacture date should be replaced even if they
don’t show any of the above signs of wear. You can find the manufacture date within the DOT
number on the sidewall.