Telling If It’s Time to Change Your Tires
Have you ever struggled with tire wear? Have you ever looked at your tires and wondered if it was time for a change? Tires can be very expensive, so many of us will put off buying a new set for as long as possible. That isn’t sound advice, but let’s face it, sometimes you just can’t afford it so you put it off until the Income Tax refund comes or some other anticipated windfall arrives in the mail.
Tire wear is never something to ignore. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there are approximately 11,000 accidents every year that can be attributed to tire wear. Not every one of these could be avoided, of course, but when tires are properly cared for or changed before they become a hazard, the number of accidents would drop significantly. You can take steps to avoid becoming a statistic by monitoring your tire wear. In this post you will find some tips that will help you do just that.
Registering for Recalls
The first step you should take when it comes to tire management is to register them with the NHTSA through the dealer or manufacturer. (This step is usually done automatically as part of a corporate policy, but you should always ask if they have done so.) When your tires are registered, it is easier for the manufacturer and the NHTSA to get in touch with you if a recall is issued. You can also check on your tires through the NHTSA website by entering your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
The Penny Test
One quick and easy way to check the wear on your tires is the penny test. Take a penny, preferable a shiny one, and stick it head-first into a groove between the tire treads. If the treads are higher than Lincoln’s head, then you still have plenty of miles left on your tires. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then tread is worn. You should replace your tires as soon as possible. While performing this test, you should also look for bulges, cracks, discoloration or other signs of damage. These issues can represent as much danger as tire wear.
The penny test is particularly useful if you don’t know the history behind the tires. There will be times when tire mileage or age aren’t clear, such as when you purchase a car from an individual. One penny can save you from thousands of dollars of repair costs.
Keep Track of Birthdays
It’s always good to know when you bought your tires. Mark it on your calendar or record it in your owner’s manual. When the tires reach their fifth birthday, it’s a good idea to have them inspected. And you should do this every year afterward until they reach the age of 10. Then, no matter how young they look, replace them. The older they are, the more likely they are to fail.
Running Straight and True
Rotating your tires every time you change your oil has long been good practice. It reduces tread wear and helps to keep them aligned. If you ever notice that the treads are wearing unevenly, this may be a sign that they are not properly aligned or they may need to be rebalanced. Seek attention immediately. Uneven tire wear may be a symptom of a much larger problem.
Maintaining Proper Air Pressure
You usually can’t tell if your tires aren’t properly inflated just by looking at them or giving them a kick. A tire that’s missing a few pounds of air pressure can go unnoticed for months, put it will surely affect your gas mileage. It can cost you up to 11 cents per gallon. Not only that, but it will quickly reduce the life of your tires.
Check your air pressure regularly with an air pressure gauge. Many newer cars have a feature that will tell you the pressure of each tire, but don’t rely on the feature as the final word. It never hurts to double check air pressure, and it takes less than two minutes.