When should you replace your tires
Do you know when to replace your tires? Follow these tips for replacing tires before they are too dangerous to drive on. Tires cost a bundle so you want to get as much wear out of yours as possible. But there’s a point where you start sacrificing your safety to squeeze out that last bit of tire life. If your read online advice, everyone will say to replace tires when they reach a tread depth of 2/32”. Well 2/32” is the legal limit, not the optimum limit. Because once your tires hit 4/32”, from that point on your tire’s stopping performance suffers dramatically.
What is the minimum tire tread depth
Ask any tire expert and they’ll tell you your vehicle’s tires must be replaced when the reach the minimum tire tread depth of 2/32” or when the wear bars are level with the tread. At that point the tread is at the legal limit of 2/32” deep. But your tires’ traction and stopping ability decrease dramatically long before that point.
The tests conducted by Tirerack.com and other consumer testing organizations, prove that trying to squeeze the last bit of life out of your tires isn’t worth it. Their stopping tests show that tires with 4/32” tread depth (twice the legal limit) take 125-ft. more to stop on wet pavement than new tires. Even worse, the tires with 2/32” tread took 250-ft. more than new tires and the truck was still traveling at 45-mph after the truck with 1/8-in. tread had come to a complete stop. (Check out the video here
So even if your tire’s tread is technically above the wear bars, that doesn’t mean they’re safe. And, regardless of the amount of remaining tread, you must replace your tires as soon as you detect cracks in the tread or sidewall areas.
Find a Tire’s age
In addition to tread wear, you must also consider the tire’s age. To decipher the date code on your tires, find the DOT embossed data on the sidewall. Then;
For tires manufactured from 2000 to the present
The date of manufacture is the last four digits of the DOT code. The first two digits tell you the week they were manufactured. The last two digits tell you the year. So a data code of 0203 means that the tire was manufactured during the second week of the year 2003.
For tires manufactured before 2000
Tire makers used a different coding system to show tire age before 2000. The date of manufacture is in the last three digits of the code. The first two digits are the week within that year. The last digit is the year of the decade. So a code of 022, means that the tire was manufactured in the second week of a year ending in 2. The year could be 2002, 2012, or even 1992.
How to check a tire’s condition
In addition to checking tread depth and age, you must also check the tire’s condition. If the tire was run with low tire pressure, the low tire pressure causes the center tread to buckle up and the tire runs on the outer edges. That wears out the edges faster than the center. Low tire pressure also creates excessive heat that can show up as cracks in the tread area and sidewall. Once a tire shows heat or age cracks, it’s time to replace the tire.
Cracks in other areas of the tire can also indicate exposure to UV rays from the sun. Crack in the tire are dangerous. They degrade the tire’s performance.
Tire punctures and flats
Lots of people think they can repair a tire puncture with just a tire plug. Wrong. A tire plug alone is NOT considered a safe and permanent repair. It may get you by for a while, but you’re gambling with your life. A puncture MUST be repaired with a plug AND a patch.
However, punctures that occur on the outer edges of the tread and in the sidewall cannot be repaired at all. The tire must be replaced.
Tire belts and cords
When tire tread wears down, it exposes the tire’s belts and cords. At this point the tire is downright dangerous to drive on.
Tire cupping is caused by poor tire balance or worn shocks or struts. Because the tire spends more time in the air during a bounce, it scallops once it hits the pavement. And once a tire starts to cup, it will continue to get worse until the ride is so bumpy you can’t maintain control of your vehicle.
All photos from reddit.com/r/Justrolledintotheshop/
©, 2015 Rick Muscoplat except as noted
Posted on by Rick Muscoplat