Tires are among the most commonly overlooked items on a vehicle, yet they are one of the most important items. You should inspect them on a regular basis, and have them checked and filled whenever you visit your auto repair shop.
Checking your tires is an easy task you can perform every day. The first aspect to check is simply to look for loss of air or flat tires. If your tires appear to be flat or have some give when you push on them, check their air pressure. Tires that are not inflated properly will greatly decrease fuel economy and contribute to tire wear. Your vehicle’s safety, longevity, and efficiency all rely on proper tire pressure.
Tire wear is an important factor to keep track of, as worn tires are unsafe and often indicative of other automotive problems. The easiest way to check for excessive tire wear is to look at the tire’s tread wear indicator. Look for the letters “TWI” and an arrow on the side of the tire facing you. If these have been worn down to the same level as the tire’s tread, then your tires need replacing. Another way is to measure the tire’s tread by using a penny or a depth gauge. The tread should be at least 1/16 of an inch thick, or, if you place a penny in the crack with Lincoln’s head down, the tread should cover at least some of his head. Make sure to check for uneven wear, because this is a sign that your vehicle may need an alignment.
Cracking is usually an issue on old tires, though in places with extreme weather conditions cracking can occur more quickly. Usually cracking occurs as tiny cracks that chain across the tire’s surface. Another sign of poor sidewall condition is the presence of strings hanging out of the tire. If you see either of these, you will want to replace your tires—even if the tread is still thick.