Tires are one of your vehicle’s most important safety features, so tire safety and vehicle safety go hand in hand. There are a few different aspects of tire safety, such as how worn the tires are, how old they are, and how well they’re being maintained. Learn more about tire safety and tire maintenance here at RightTurn.
Bald Tires & When to Change Tires
What Is a Bald Tire?
The part of a tire that contacts the road is called the tread, and this tread wears down over time. When a tire’s tread is completely worn down to the wear bars, you have a bald tire. And if your vehicle has bald tires, you need new tires right away-driving on bald tires is not safe.
Worn Tires Are Dangerous
When it rains, the grooves in a tire help channel water away so the tire can maintain contact with the road. This helps reduce the chance of hydroplaning. But the grooves on a worn tire tread are too shallow to effectively evacuate water from beneath the tire. Driving on bald tires in rain can result in anything from difficulty stopping to a complete loss of vehicle control.
Driving on bald tires in snow is risky too. A tire’s tread pattern-including sipes- gives it a bunch of biting edges that help it dig into snow. A bald tire loses these edges and makes it harder to both start and stop your vehicle.
Even on dry roads, bald tires are more prone to tire failure and more easily punctured. It’s not hard to see why-a bald tire is literally thinner at the tread than a new tire, so it’s easier for a nail or other object to cause a flat tire.
Worn out tires can make any drive perilous. If you’re wondering when to change tires, it’s a very good idea to get rid of your worn tires before they contribute to a collision. Too many people wait to buy new tires until they’re driving on bald tires in rain and realizing their wheels are spinning. Don’t postpone something as important as safety.
When are Tires Worn Out?
If your tires are worn down to the tire wear bars, you have bald tires and need to buy new ones as soon as possible. But even a partially worn tire is risky. Worn tires can cause a reduction in your ability to stop as quickly as you need to. Even a half worn tire tread can increase your stopping distance by several car lengths.
Using a tread depth gauge is one of the most accurate ways to determine when to change tires. But if you don’t have one handy, all you need is a quarter:
• Insert a quarter head first into one of the grooves on your tire.
• If you can see the top of Washington’s head, it’s time to find new tires.
Don’t let worn tires ruin your drive. Driving on bald tires is dangerous, so replace your worn out tires before they cause an accident. Buying new tires is an investment in your safety, and it’s a much better use of money than needing to unexpectedly fork over cash for an insurance deductible.
Don’t wait until you have a bald tire. Help renew your vehicle’s safety today. RightTurn helps you get the right tires for your vehicle as well as your personal driving needs.
How to Check Tire Age
You may know quite a bit about your tires, but do you know how old they are? Regardless of the brand name, materials, or construction style of a tire, they will not be safe to use forever. All tires have natural rubber in them. The rubber oxidizes and breaks down over time, just like other organic things do. Even if your tires still have a safe amount of tread, you may need to replace them if they get too old. RightTurn.com recommends that you learn how to check the age of your tires so you can make sure they are safe to use.
Tire Safety and Tire Age
Once tires reach a certain age, driving on them becomes a safety hazard. Rubber compounds that have lost their spring and elasticity are more likely to suffer damage from hazards inside and outside the tire. Road hazards are more likely to puncture old tires that no longer meet manufacturing standards, and inner components can also result in hazardous conditions. These can come in the form of exposed cable plies, blisters, tears, and cracks within the tread and the sidewalls. Even excess heat that builds up inside a tire because of under-inflation can cause severe damage to an old tire.
You should replace tires that are 10 or more years old, or risk significant damage which could lead to an accident at highway speeds. Some automotive manufacturers even suggest replacing tires once they reach six years of age. Talk to your automotive dealership service advisor to see what your vehicle manufacturer recommends.
How to Find Tire Age
The sidewall of a tire tells you a lot about it-everything from its name to its size. To check the age of your tire, you need to find the DOT number.. The Department of Transportation puts a DOT number on every tire manufactured for sale in theUnited States. It’s next to the size information. The DOT number appears in smaller type than the size code.
Reading the DOT Number
Find the letters DOT on the tire’s sidewall. You will see several numbers and letters following DOT. The final four numbers represent the date the tire was made. If there are only three numbers, then you know the tire was manufactured before the year 2000. On all tires manufactured after 1999, the code includes the week the tire was manufactured as well as the last two digits of the year. For example, 3304 means that the tire was made in the 33rd week of 2004. The rest of the characters in the DOT number tell you which manufacturer made the tire and which plant produced it.
Make sure you check the DOT number on all four of your tires. Just because you bought them in a set does not mean they are all the same age. If you have trouble finding the DOT number, ask the service department at your dealership. The certified technicians can help you through the process of making sure you are driving on safe tires.>
Tire Care & Tire Maintenance
Don’t need new tires yet? Great! Now let’s be sure you get the most out of the ones you have. A little bit of tire maintenance can go a long way in helping your tires last longer. Even more importantly, regular tire care is a big part of your vehicle safety.
When it comes to tire care and maintenance, these are the big four.
A few minutes a month is all it takes to keep your tires inflated to the correct pressure.
Alignment issues can cause tires to wear unevenly. Wheel alignment service can help.
Most automakers recommend tire rotation to help a set of tires wear at the same rate.
Used by auto professionals, a tread depth gauge gives you a precise measurement.
Monitor Your Tire Air Pressure
The advancements made in tire technology over the past several decades are impressive. You can choose from tires that are geared toward premium street performance, wet or snowy weather, off-road terrain, and cruising on highways at high speeds. However, with any kind of tire, optimal function relies on tire air pressure being maintained.
A properly inflated tire benefits overall vehicle function and is imperative for safety and fuel efficiency.
The Importance of Tire Air Pressure
Tires are manufactured to perform at a specific air pressure. The recommended air pressure allows the tires to operate at their peak performance to support the vehicle’s load and promote fuel efficiency and safety. When you drive your vehicle with tire air pressure that meets the recommended standard, you should expect it to run and respond in the way that it was designed to. You can find the recommended air pressure in the vehicle owner’s manual or driver’s side door jamb. The pressure listed on the tire sidewall is not the optimal pressure, but rather the maximum air pressure.
The reason air pressure affects the vehicle’s performance is simple. An improperly inflated tire does not maintain its intended shape. A tire that is underinflated will take more energy to move forward and loses some of its performance characteristics. It may also cause excess heat to build up inside the tire, which can lead to a blowout. An overinflated tire will lose a great deal of its traction because the tread does not meet the road as intended. Overinflation also puts tires at risk for blowouts. Checking your air pressure regularly will help prevent issues like this from occurring and can help you and your passengers stay safe.
Tire Pressure & Fuel Efficiency
In addition to vehicle safety, tire pressure also plays a significant role in fuel efficiency. Most vehicles with inflation problems are rolling on tires that are underinflated. When a tire’s air pressure is too low, more of the tire will make contact with the ground surface. This creates a substantial amount of drag and requires more engine power to move the vehicle. Essentially, low tire pressure causes a vehicle to perform inefficiently. If you want maximized fuel efficiency, inflate your tires to the recommended pressure.
Prolonging Tire Life
Tire air pressure also plays a key role in the life of your tires. An overinflated tire causes uneven wear on the center tread, greatly decreasing the overall life of a tire. Underinflated tires are prone to excessive shoulder wear. Uneven tread wear can also cause safety problems if left unchecked for long periods of time. Uneven wear requires you too prematurely replace your tires.
Check Your Tires Often
A tire air pressure gauge is an easy-to-use instrument that should be used often. Checking tire pressure once a week, when tires are cool, will ensure that air pressure levels are appropriate in all tires, allowing for safe and efficient travel.
You can’t measure a tire’s pressure properly if don’t know how to use a tire pressure gauge. There are a couple different types of tire pressure gauges that you might want to consider. Keep the equipment that you prefer in your vehicle at all times so that you can check your tire pressure at any time. Having the tire pressure gauge in your vehicle will improve your vehicle’s performance on the road, keeping you and your family safer in any driving condition.
How to Check Your Tire Pressure
Step 1. Find the recommended air pressure on your vehicle’s tire information label. It’s usually on the driver’s doorframe or door ledge, but you may also find it in your glove box or vehicle owner’s manual.
Step 2. Check tires at least three hours after driving. The recommended pressure is cold inflation pressure. Tires heat up when you drive, which increases pressure.
Step 3. Check the pressure of all four tires, as well as the spare tire if your vehicle has one. Check your tire pressure every month. Tires naturally lose pressure over time, and changes in outdoor temperature affect your tire pressure too.
How to Use a Conventional Tire Pressure Gauge
Conventional tire pressure gauges are about the size of a pencil. They typically have metal exteriors with plastic rods that extend when the device is attached to a tire stem. As air rushes out of the tire, it forces the plastic rod to extend. Notches along the rod’s side will tell you how much pressure has been exerted. Most tire pressure gauges have black notches on white rods. Every tenth notch is usually a bit larger than the others. This makes it easier for you to read the PSI. For instance, if you attach the gauge to your tire and the rod extends to a large 3 and a small 4, then your reading is 34 PSI. Don’t get confused by thinking that the gauge is giving you a measurement of 3.4 PSI.
How to Use an Electronic Tire Pressure Gauge
Electronic tire pressure gauges can give you highly accurate pressure ratings. You simply turn the device on, press it against your tire’s nozzle, and get an accurate reading of the pressure. There are, however, some drawbacks to using an electronic tire pressure gauge. First, they cost more than conventional tire pressure gauges. The extra expense, however, isn’t that great. If you have a hard time reading the notches on a conventional tire pressure gauge, then the extra money is worth it. The bigger problem is making sure the electronic tire pressure gauge is properly powered. If the batteries are running low, then you could get inaccurate readings or no reading at all. That puts you and your family in danger. If you prefer using an electronic gauge, then make sure you check the batteries regularly. You might also want to keep spare batteries in the vehicle for emergencies.
Practice Using Your Tire Pressure Gauge
Regardless of whether you prefer a conventional tire pressure gauge or an electronic one, you should practice using the tool before you encounter any emergency situation. A small amount of practice could make it much easier for you to check your tire pressure on the side of the road. It is important to know how to measure your tire pressure because properly inflated tires are safer than under or overinflated tires. Underinflated tires, for instance, can hydroplane easily. Overinflated tires wear down more quickly. They also make it hard to quickly stop and to control the vehicle in slippery conditions. As long as you know how to use a tire pressure gauge, though, you know can check the pressure regularly to make sure your family is safe on the road.