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Assessing Your Tires and Why It Matters

Most modern cars come with bells and whistles that alert you to potential problems including your parking brake still being engaged, a door not being closed all the way, or even a timed sensor for when an oil change is needed. One of the most crucial parts of your car doesn’t have a sensor and it’s where you depend on performance the most; your tires.

Car tires are dangerously easy to ignore. There are a few elements of your car tire that you should regularly check.

Tire Tread

The grooved pattern to your tires is critical to both the performance of your tires as well as your safety. The grooved and treaded design of tires all over providesbetter traction while you car is driving on asphalt and other surfaces. However, over time, friction wears down these tire treads. Once worn down, your vehicle is at a greater safety risk when conditions get dicey such as in the snow or rain.

That’s why it’s important to regularly check the depth of your tire dreading to keep you safely on the road. All it may cost you to check is a penny! 

The Penny Test 

The penny test is one of the most popular ways to evaluate your tire treads. To complete the penny test

  1. Turn your penny (Lincoln’s head) upside-down.
  2. Wedge the upside-down penny into the tread of the tire.
  3. Check to see if you are able to see the top of Lincoln’s head including his hair.

If you can’t see the top of his head, your tires are performing as they should. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head or the letters above, it’s time to invest in a new set of tires as they are unsafe.

Without a penny, you can still visually assess for problems behind your tire tread. Closely examine your tires to check for these potential problems:

  • The outer edge of the tread more worn than the center? Your tires may be underinflated.
  • Center of the tread more worn than the outer edge? Your tires may be overinflated.
  • Different tread levels across tires? You may have improper wheel alignment.

When you get new tires, you typically buy all four at the same time. Given this, it’s important that you try to evenly wear out your tires. 

Tire Rotation

Rotating your tires allows for an even wear down of your tires and proper handling over time. There are numerous ways to rotate your tires but the general premise is to switch tires from at the front of the vehicle to the back as well as change right and left tires. 

Every set of tires are different, but it is recommended you rotate every 5-7 thousand miles. This makes it a great opportunity to rotate when you have your car’s oil changed. Doing so can extend the life of your tires as well as protect your own life. If you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle that you have worn out for years, without rotation, your vehicle may not respond with the control you need for a swift turn or stop.

Keeping your tires regularly rotated is an easy way to look out for your vehicle over time.

Tire Pressure

The other most noticeable aspect of your vehicle’s tires is tire pressure. While some vehicles have automatic sensors that read your tire pressure constantly and alert you when low, it’s important to monitor it yourself as well. 

Trust Your Tire Pressure Gauge

For just a few dollars, you can invest in a tire pressure gauge that you can then keep in your car. Tire inflation issues never come up at a good time, but you can reduce the risk by proactively checking the tire pressure with this gauge. All you have to do is:

  1. Confirm the required tire pressure level for your vehicle. This can be found in the doorframe of the driver’s door on a yellow sticker or in the owner’s manual.
  2. Remove the tire valve cap and place it in a safe place so that you don’t lose it.
  3. Insert the gauge onto the valve. You may hear a hissing sound of air escaping but this will only be momentary as you get the measurement.
  4. Make note of the pressure on all four active tires as well as the spare tire if you have one.
  5. Compare the pressures across the tires to make sure they are consistent and at necessary levels.
  6. Add air to necessary tires with a purchased air compressor or at a local auto repair shop.

It is recommended that you check tire pressure monthly, especially when there are changes in the weather. To note, your tire pressure will be lower in cold conditions as the air contracts. Only check the tire pressure when the tires are cold and have not been driven on in hours as the tires heat up when driven, increasing the pressure and giving you a false read

Inspect the Tire Lining

While the ride may feel smooth on the road, our tires face sharp objects like glass, rocks, or nails constantly. When you check the tire pressure, make sure to visually look over your tires. Look out for inconsistencies in the tire surface such as a potential puncture, scrape, or bulge. These may indicate potential issues and risks of a flat tire. If you find any issues, make sure to take your vehicle to your local auto repair shop for an expert to assess the issue.

Drive Safely with City Auto Repair

At City Auto Repair, we strive to empower our clients to take care of their vehicles on their own. However, it’s important to get a professional opinion when needed for your tires. Our team of automobile experts can help get you back on the road safely with our tire services. Schedule an appointment or get in touch with us for all your automotive needs.