Owning a car is like having a baby. The moment the seller hands over the car key to you, it becomes a part of you. A car is not just an asset; it takes to you places with its spinning wheels. The locomotion of the car is solely based on these spinning wheels, which are called tires.
And if you own a car then you know the length of struggles you may have to go through, to keep your vehicle in good shape. And taking care of the most exposed part of it is of paramount importance. Your vehicle’s tires work hard every time you go on the road. As they age, they become more and more worn down, especially if you use the same set of tires year round. As a result, your tires will need to be replaced.
Typically, a tire needs to be typically replaced every 6 to 8 years. Knowing when to replace your tires can be difficult to ascertain, especially for people who are not as familiar with car mechanics. Here are a few ways you can tell if your tires need replacing:
I. Tread Wear:
Tread is the rubber on the outer surface of the tire which has grooves to help it grip the road’s surface. The depth of the grooves is known as the tread depth. In most countries, the legal tread depth limit is 1.6mm.
As a tire ages and wears down, the tread is worn off. This reduces its effectiveness and safety. The grooves in the tread are specially designed to keep you safe in a range of driving conditions. In fact, there are a variety of different tread patterns for this reason: some patterns are optimised for driving on snow, or to reduce noise or increase grip.
If the tread of your tires ever falls below 1.6mm, you should definitely replace your tires. Most modern tires carry a tread indicator, a tool that can help you understand if it’s time to get your car a new set of footwear. However, there’s a simple way to check whether your tread depth is within the legal limit called the 20c test. Take a 20c coin and put it into one of the tire’s grooves. If the outer ring of the coin’s design is covered by the tread, then the tread is safe. However, if the coin’s outer ring is not covered, then the tread is not deep enough and is illegal – you should replace that tire immediately.
While there are good vibrations, there are also bad vibrations, which shouldn’t be ignored if coming from your vehicle. If you are driving on a dirt road, or one that is worn, chances are you will feel vibrations. However, a higher-than-usual vibration transmitting into the cabin from the wheels warrants immediate attention.
There are a lot of things that can cause vibrations, such as misaligned or unbalanced wheels, or damaged shock absorbers some of which can end up causing damage to your tires. If you feel your car shaking excessively, you should take it into a mechanic to see what’s wrong.
III. Damaged Tires:
No matter the age of your tires, there’s a chance that they can sustain damage other than wear and tear on the tread. Ideally, before you start a journey, you should take note of the state of your tires to see if there are any obvious bulges, blisters or splits in the sidewall. The appearance of any of these may indicate serious internal tire damage.
If the tire is beginning to weaken structurally, it will exhibit symptoms through a bump on the side of the tire. These bumps can turn into significant problems if not addressed, as they could cause your tire to blow out.
If you notice any bulges or cracks appearing, you can take your car to a tire specialist and ask them for their opinion. However, there’s a good chance those tires will need to be replaced.
Cracks in the sidewall could be a sign that your tire is developing a leak or that you’ve been driving tires that are underinflated.
IV. Age of Tires:
The lifespan of a tire depends on a number of factors, including the driver’s habits (e.g. driving style), the condition of the road, the climate and how well it’s looked after. The more miles you cover, the quicker your tires will need to be changed; however, on average, you can expect a tire to last between 20,000 – 30,000 miles. Although there’s no set time for when you should replace your tires, most manufacturers agree that tires shouldn’t be used for longer than Ten years after the manufacturing date.
Even if a Ten-year-old tire is within the legal tread depth regulations and doesn’t show any visible signs of ageing, there could be internal damage compromising its safety. To check the age of your tires, you need to find the DOT code on the sidewall.
The date a tire was made will be stamped on one side in the form of four numbers usually preceded by the letters ‘DOT’. These numbers represent the week number and the year. For example, if your tire was printed with the number 2616, it would be the 26th week of 2016.
Once your tires get to five years old, it’s recommended to have them checked by a tire professional every year to ensure they’re still in good condition and safe to use.
V. Air Pressure:
Checking your air pressure regularly goes a long way toward extending your tire’s lifespan. Having over or under-inflated tires leads to uneven pressure on your treads, which will start to show as an uneven wear pattern.
Driving with over inflated tires wears down the centre of the tread, while driving with under-inflated tires causes wear near the shoulders of the tread.
Driving with under-inflated tires will not only cause excessive uneven wear, but also decreases your fuel economy.
It’s easy to find your tire’s correct operating pressure, usually measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). Check inside the driver’s door: there should be a placard there that will show the front and rear tire pressure recommendations. Depending on the car, these may be different. If the placard isn’t in the driver’s side door frame, look inside the fuel door, the glove box or your car’s manual.
If you discover any of the above issues with your tires, it’s essential to fix the problem right away. If you don’t, not only are you jeopardizing your own safety, but also the safety of others on the road. Replacing your tires promptly could not only save your life but also protect your car from further damage in the future.
Driven properly, anyone can extend their tire’s lifespan well beyond the average mileage. Regularly checking your tire condition, air pressure, and alignment will also boost their lifespan (as well as your car’s performance) significantly.