It can be easy to forget about tires in the midst of all your other car maintenance routines -- oil changes, brake checks, engine coolant, and more just seems like more of a pressing issue at times. However, tires are critical to your safety and to the health of your vehicle. Maintaining proper tire pressure levels is a necessity, and tread that’s too worn can leave you open to sliding on slick, wet roads. Poor tire health may even affect your gas mileage!
So how can you tell when you need new tires? First of all, you should be keeping track of how long you’ve had the tires in question. Ten years is the absolute maximum you should leave a tire on your vehicle, and that’s only if you have the best driving habits all the time. Five years is a good marker; you should begin inspecting your tires regularly after they hit the five-year mark.
When inspecting your tires, here are a few things you should look for:
A tire begins to bulge as it deflates. This indicates low tire pressure, which can easily be fixed by filling it up to the recommended level. However, if the same tire continues to deflate or you can see gouges or cracks, you might have a slow air leak on your hands.
This is where you use the good ol’ penny test -- place a penny upside down between the treads of your tires. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, the treads have worn too long and you need to get your tires replaced.
This is obvious, but keep temperature in mind. Cold temperatures cause tires to deflate faster, while hot temperatures cause heat build-up, which can lead to more frequent blowouts.
When replacing tires, you should always replace them in pairs or in full sets of four to maintain an equal balance and optimize the safety of your vehicle.