Preparing Your Tires For Wear

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You can even examine your tires for wear at least. To find out whether you should (a) buy new tires, (b) have your wheels balanced, (c) have your wheels aligned, or (d) change your driving habits, simply read your tire treads for clues. Table 1 and Figure 1 demonstrate what to look for once a month and before and after long trips.

Table 1: How to Read Your Treads

Clue

Culprit

Remedy

Both edges worn

Underinflation

Add more air; check for leaks

Center treads worn

Overinflation

Let air out to manufacturer’s specifications

One-sided wear

Poor alignment

Have wheels aligned

Treads worn unevenly, with bald spots, cups, or scallops

Wheel imbalance and/or poor alignment

Have wheels balanced and aligned

Erratically spaced bald spots

Wheel imbalance or worn shocks

Have wheels balanced or replace shocks

Edges of front tires only worn

Taking curves too fast

Slow!

Saw-toothed wearpattern

Poor alignment

Have wheels aligned

Whining, thumping, as well as other weird noises

Poor alignment, worn tires or shocks

Have wheels aligned or buy new tires or shocks

Squealing on curves

Poor alignment or underinflation

Check wear on treads and act accordingly

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Figure 1: What indications of poor tread wear mean.

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Underinflated tires degrade faster, create excessive heat, increase fuel consumption, making your car harder to handle. Overinflated tires can blow out more easily, need replacing faster, and then make the car unsafe and unstable to deal with. And a new set of tires on wheels that are out from alignment can wear out completely in as little as 1 day of hard driving!

To ascertain what’s causing problems with your tires, try the following:

Search for things a part of each tire. Will you seenails and stones? Alternatively, other debris embedded in the treads? Eliminate them. But if you’re going to remove a nail, first be sure that your spare tire is inflated and in usable shape.

Push the nail back in quickly and take the tire to be fixed if you hear a hissing sound whenever you pull a nail. When you aren’t sure whether air is escaping, put some soapy water in the hole and check out the bubbles made by escaping air. If you’re still not sure regardless of if the nail might have caused a leak, check your air pressure and then check it again the next day to find out whether it’s lower. Tires with leaks should be patched by a professional. If the leak persists, have a new tire.

Look at the sidewalls. Check for deeply scuffed or worn areas, bulges or bubbles, small slits, or holes. Perform the tires fit evenly and snugly around the wheel rims?

Consider the treads. Most tires have tread-wear indicators built into them (see Figure 2). These bars of hard rubber are normally invisible but appear across treads that have been worn down to 1/16th of an inch of the surface of the tire (the legal limit in most states). If these indicators appear in two or three different places, lower than 120 degrees apart on the circumference of your tire, replace the tire.

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Figure 2: It’s time for first time tires when tread-wear indicators appear.

When your tires don’t show these indicators and you think that they may be worn below legal tolerances, place a Lincoln penny head-down inside the groove in between the treads. Provided you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tire probably has to be replaced.

To measure tread wear more exactly, place a thin ruler to the tread and measure the distance from the base of the tread towards the surface. It ought to be more than 1/16 inch deep. (Note: Should your front tires are more worn than your rear show and ones abnormal wear patterns, you probably must have your wheels aligned.)

Pay attention to leaks. Have your local service station check them for leaks when you keep losing air in your tires. Sometimes an ill-fitting rim results in a leak. The garage has a machine that could fix this concern easily.

If the garage can’t find a leak, your rims fit properly, and you’re still losing air, you almost certainly have a faulty tire valve that’s allowing air to flee. You can buy tire valves to change the ones on your car. Try to find the number molded into the bottom of the tire valves; then buy new ones that match it.

In the process of replacing the valve, you will lose the majority of the air from your tire, so either plan to do this job at a service station where you can gain access to an air hose, or use a mechanic replace the valve for you.