How to Tell If You Need New Tires

Every year in the U.S., tire-related crashes cause 200 fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Thankfully, it’s easy to monitor your tires, and how to tell if you need new tires, with a quick video and some basic information.

5 Warning Signs You Need New Tires

The primary functions of the tread on your tires are to grip the road and to divert water that causes hydroplaning. Tires with plenty of tread can help you maintain control and reduce your chances of getting a flat. With a quick monthly check of your tread and tire pressure, you’ll know if you need to replace your tires.

Tread Wear Bars are Flush with the Tread:

Tread wear bars are small, raised bits of rubber that run between the tread blocks. As these bars become even with the top of the tread, it is likely time for new tires. See more about tread wear bars below.

Cracked Rubber:

Tires will wear down over time, even if you don’t drive much. Sunlight, heat, and chemicals used to melt snow and ice can reduce rubber flexibility, causing tires to crack, lose air, and eventually fail.

Uneven Tire Tread:

There are many factors that may cause uneven wear, which could shorten the life of your tires. Vehicle alignment, tire pressure, lack of rotation, and/or worn steering and suspension components can all contribute to this problem. To prolong the life of your tires and reduce uneven wear, consider getting them rotated at consistent intervals. At Les Schwab, we recommend getting them rotated every 5,000 milles. The pros at Les Schwab will also conduct a free visual inspection of your steering and suspension components. Schedule your free, pre-trip safety check today.

Tire Pressure Issues:

All tires deflate slowly over time, usually about 1 PSI (pounds per square inch) per month. Check yours monthly to keep them properly inflated. If your tires continually lose air or seem to completely deflate without warning, you may need to stop by Les Schwab for tire repair or replacement if necessary. Does the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) light often appear on your dash? This could mean your tires have developed a slow, continuous leak.

Sidewall Bulges:

If you hit a curb, pothole or other obstacle, your tires can develop sidewall bulges due to a break of the inner liner. These bulges can rupture causing a potentially unsafe situation. If you spot a bulge on your tires, get to your nearby Les Schwab and have your tires inspected.

Other Possible Issues:

If you experience new vibrations or thumping while driving, it could be a sign that one of your tire/wheel assemblies is out of balance. It could also indicate a suspension issue. Stop by your local Les Schwab and our professionals will check your tires, steering, and suspension.

Easy Ways to Check Your Tread

Use the Tread Wear Bars

All tires sold in the United States today have what are called tread wear bars. The tread wear bars on your tires are there to help you see how much tread you still have. These wear bars are small, raised bars of rubber in the grooves of your tire. Look at the tread pattern and you’ll see these bars running between the tread blocks.

Tire Wear Bars

How do I use them to diagnose worn tires?

Look at the tread pattern and you’ll see these bars running between the tread blocks. As your tires wear, these bars will become increasingly flush with the tire’s tread. It’s important to replace your tires before this happens.

Depending on where and how you drive, and the conditions you face on the road, you might consider getting new tires before they reach that point. City driving in mild conditions may allow you to wait until the tread is closer to the tread wear bar before replacing your tires. More adverse conditions, such as rain, snow, and unpaved roads, may require you to replace your tires earlier.

Do the Penny Test

An easy way to check the tread on your tires is to do the penny test. Take a penny and place Lincoln’s head in one of the grooves of the tire tread. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace the tire.

Penny test to measure tread

If the penny goes in enough that the tire tread is at least as deep as Lincoln’s forehead, your tires are generally considered safe and do not need replacing. Check all four of your tires when conducting the penny test.

Ready to Find the Perfect Tires?

You’ll find your next set of tires at Les Schwab. You also find our world-class customer service at a tire shop near you that cares about your safety on the road.