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7 Telltale Warning Signs You Need New Tires

The tires on your car wear out over time. Being unaware of the warning signs leaves you and your family exposed to potential danger. This article provides the 7 telltale warning signs you need new tires.

Tires play a key role in your safety on the road. They are responsible for safe breaking, maneuvering, and traction. In good driving weather, worn out tires are hazardous enough-but in bad driving weather, they pose a catastrophic threat to you and other drivers on the road.

Don't leave yourself and your loved ones exposed to danger by neglecting your tire wear. If you know the signs you need new tires, you can prevent a potential car accident, and worse.

7 Telltale Signs You Need New Tires

Even when your tires are in perfect condition, the road is a dangerous place, and irresponsible driving habits exacerbate potential hazards. Simple car maintenance and tire checks are essential for road trip safety and driving in winter. The best way to search for tires is to, first, find out which are the best tires for your car's rating.

It is not hard to tell if you need new tires. In fact, manufacturers intend for drivers to easily tell the signs of tire aging. Visually check for these 7 signs you need new tires:

1. Tread Depth

The depth of your tire tread is responsible for how much traction you have against the road when braking and accelerating. The tread wears down evenly on the drivetrain tires over the course of driving. The tire tread is the raised sections of rubber, sectioned by thin trenches.

The general rule of thumb is that the tire tread depth should not measure less than 1/16 inch. Tread that falls under 1/16 of an inch lacks adequate traction power and can cause skidding and unstable breaking. The depth of your tread is measured from the outer most point of a section of tread, down to the rubber between the tread.

You can get a fancy gauge to measure it, like the pros, but there is no need. The age-old method of measuring your tire tread is the penny trick.

To measure your tread using the penny trick, locate a penny. Turn the penny upside down and heads up, so Abe's head is upside down. Now, put the penny between the tread on your tires, with the top of Abe's head pointing to the central axis of your tire.

The space between the top of Abe's head and the edge of the penny is about 1/16 of an inch. So, if the tread covers any of Abe's head, you still have enough tread. But, if you can see his entire head, you need new tires.

2. Tread Wear Indicator Bars

Any new tire has a special design feature, called tread wear indicator bars. They serve to alert you to tread wear as it occurs. These bars are perpendicular to the tread, and only appear once the tread begins to wear away.

The lines become more and more visible, as the tread wears thinner. If you have newer tires, you can simply look to see if the tread wear indicator bars are beginning to become visible.

If they are pronounced, it is time to get new tires. If they are just starting to show up, you can use the penny test to check how much tread you have left before you need new tires.

Tire tread wear shows up in six patterns: center, shoulder, feathered, cupped, flat spot, or "toe" wear. Center wear is from over inflation, and shoulder wear is from under-inflation.

Feathered wear appears on one side of a tire, and is caused by rounding corners at high speed. Cupped wear occurs on the side of a tire closest to the car, and is from worn out shocks or struts.

Flat spot wear comes from locking up your breaks and occurs in the center of the tire. Toe wear is indicative of an alignment problem, and it occurs on the shoulder of your tire tread.

3. Crack in Tires Sidewall

The sidewall is another spot to look for signs you need new tires. If you see any little cracks running down the rubber that means the tire is on its last legs. Sidewall cracks are easy to see when you get down on your hands and knees for an inspection.

Cracks in your tire will only get larger over time. Eventually, they lead to air leaks and blowouts. Blowouts are extremely dangerous if they occur while driving at high speeds. If your tires seem to lose air quickly after a fill, check for sidewall cracks.

4. Tire Bulging and Blistering

When the outer surface of your tire is old and begins to degrade, the rubber bulges, and blisters. It looks a lot like blisters do on a person. Area's of the weakened tire will extend outward from the rest of the tire in a partial dome shape.

These bulges and malformations can cause blowouts on the road. And, if you drive on it enough, you can be sure it will blow. If you see any bubbling, bulging, or blistering parts of your tire surface, you need new tires.

5. Excessive Vibrations

You know if your car is vibrating more than usual. If it is not the shocks, struts or steering there could be a fault in your tire. If it is not the tires fault, whatever is causing the vibrations will wear out your tires eventually.

Whether your car is vibrating from your tires or something else, take your car to a mechanic to find out for sure.

6. Exposed Tire Thread Wires

Your tires have a thin wire mesh that runs underneath the outer rubber layer. These thin wires are never meant to become exposed. If your tire is exposing threads, you need new tires, and you need to stop driving on your current tires.

7. Passed Their Tread Warranty

If you have a warranty on your tire tread, that is an easy indication that you should look for signs you need new tires. Most new tires include a warranty based on mileage. You might not need new tires as soon as your warranty expires, but the clock is counting down.

Final Thoughts

Tires wear evenly on the front and back. If one of your tires is showing signs of wear, check the tire opposite for the same signs. Tires will, almost always, wear out at the same time.

If these seven signs you need new tires are useful, share them with a friend on Facebook or Twitter. And, get all the latest posts on automotive maintenance by subscribing to our newsletter. Thanks for reading.