This is one of the most common questions we hear from customers, and one of those times when we can’t give a straight answer. Unfortunately, your car tires, like many other parts of your car, wear differently from car to car, based on driving style, the kind of miles you put on your car, the alignment, and a variety of other factors. While we can’t give you a straight answer, we can give you these indicators of worn tires:
- Hardenss. Did you know that even if you don’t drive frequently or on long trips, you may still need new tires? It’s true, and we’ve had numerous customers come into our shop with that exact issue. They are the customers who don’t have long commutes, or only take their car out occasionally—whatever the reasons, they don’t put a lot of miles on their car each year. So their tires should last forever, right? No. Tires don’t always wear down to replacement; they often harden over time, making them a lot harder to drive in slick weather and decreasing your traction. If you don’t put a significant amount of miles on your car each year, make sure to ask mechanic if your tires are hard and ready for replacement.
- Doesn’t hold air. If you have to add a significant amount of air to your tires regularly, or your tire sporadically goes flat, an alarm should be going off in your head. Adding air to your tires is not normal, and eventually you’re going to be stranded somewhere with a flat tire.
- Very little tire tread left. Not sure if you have enough tread? Use the old coin trick. Put a penny into the tread of your tire. If you can completely see Abraham Lincoln’s head, you need new tires. Make sure you try this trick in a few different places on the tire. Tires can wear differently, leaving some tires with uneven tread depth.
- Excessive cracking or blistering. If you have cracks or blisters on the sidewall of your tire, you need to get your tires checked as soon as possible. Excessive cracking or blisters are tire injuries that can lead to a blow out, leaving you stranded by the side of the road or at home not able to get to work or school.
- Tread wear indicator bars show. You won’t see tread wear indicator bars when your tire is new. As the tread of your tire starts to wear down, you will notice bars in the bottom of the groove in several locations around your tire. Just as the name implies, tread wear indicator bars are a sign you need to get those tires to a repair shop for inspection, and possible replacement.
Some tires do give you a general—-note that key term, general—idea of how long your tires are expected to last by listing an expected mileage when you buy the tire. Remember, though, that the number of miles is not a hard number. Every set of tires wear differently, so it’s up to you—and your mechanic—to keep an eye on them and make sure that your tires are in good condition and can get you through road conditions safely. Have your mechanic check you tire wear during routine tire rotations and at your regular oil changes. For more information on how often to do that, read our recent blog post or ask our mechanics when you schedule your next appointment.