Every driver knows that tires in poor condition are not only a killer for driving performance but also a potential dangerous safety hazard. This is one of the reasons why, aside from speeding, one of the most common driving offences drivers get tickets is the tire condition. Bald tires can ruin your car's brake time, which can be the difference between a near miss and a collision.
Therefore, for any vehicle owner who considers themselves a safe and responsible driver, keeping your tires fit for the road is essential. So, how can you tell when your tires are past their best and what warning signs will your car give you? In this article, we'll be demystifying these signs and signals so you'll be able to confidently tell when the time has come to replace your car's tires.
How long are tires meant to last?
On average, a brand new set of tires should last you around 50,000 miles. However, this estimate can vary quite wildly depending on the quality of tires bought, the amount of driving you do, and the types of surface you drive on. For instance, a coarser road surface, such as gravel, will wear a tire's tread down faster than smooth tarmac.
Other factors, such as driving with tires out of alignment or tires that are incorrectly inflated, will impact drastically on your tire's projected life span.
What are the signs that I should replace my tires?
Other than your own prior knowledge of your tires, i.e. their quality and the amount of miles they've driven since purchase, the main way you can tell when your tires may be past their best is how driving feels. If you notice your drive feels rougher than usual, or even that there is slight vibration as the wheels turn on a smooth road surface, then it's likely the tread is either uneven or worn down and that you should take a closer inspection to resolve the issue.
How to Test the Condition of Your Tires
There are several simple tests you can use to work out if your tires need replacing. The first and most obvious is a visual check. If you can clearly see missing tread or damage beyond the cosmetic to a tire's surface, then its best to err on the side of caution and seek replacement. If the tread wear seems uneven, this can also indicate further issues with the car, such as trouble with the wheel alignment, or more seriously, the suspension.
When undertaking your visual inspection, it is also important to look out for abnormalities in the side wall, otherwise known as the outside rim of the wheel. If you notice any bulging or bubbling, then it is likely that there is a crack somewhere on your wheel's internal frame. No matter the condition of the tread, a side wall with this kind of deformity will need to be replaced as soon as possible to prevent serious damage to the vehicle and to everyone on the road.
Finally, a more practical test you can undertake is known as the Lincoln Penny test. This test is undertaken to assess the tire's tread thickness. To implement this test, simply place a Lincoln penny upside down in the centre of the tire's tread or at its thickest part. If the top of Lincoln's head is visible, even in the slightest degree, then your tire is no longer fit for the road and will need to be replaced.
Replacing Your Tires
If you've fitted a spare tire on your car at some point, you may feel confident in replacing all four tires yourself. However, it is usually more advisable to have your new tires fitted at a garage. This is because a qualified mechanic will also be able to tell the condition of your wheel alignment and suspension, judging by the wear on your old tires. They will also ensure your tires are fitted in the correct position and alignment and at the right level of inflation for your car, helping to ensure a long life span.
If you are in San Jose or other surrounding areas of California and are looking to get your tires replaced, look no further than Fast Lane European. With 18 years being at the very top of their field in regards to the maintenance of BMW's, Minis, and Volvos, if your car is from across the pond, then it can be in no safer hands that the trained professionals at Fast Lane European.