When To Replace Your Tires


Replace your tires


Tires are one of the most important parts of your car.  They are crucial to making sure it is performing optimally, as well as ensuring your safety in risky weather conditions.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates about 200 fatalities each year are due to tire failures.  At some point, tires will begin to lose traction and braking abilities.  We here at Jim Shorkey Gainesville Kia want to make sure our Kia customers stay safe when behind the wheel.  One way to do this is to learn to properly check your tires to see if you need to replace your tires.

The primary function of tire tread is to divert water from beneath the tires to improve traction and avoid hydroplaning.  When the tread is down to 1/16th of an inch, the tires are no longer safe and it’s time to replace.  There are legal requirements to replace tires when they get down to 1/16th of an inch or less.

The small bridge like patterns between your tires’ tread are called “tread wear bars”.  You will see the beginnings of these bars start to form between the tread, or run across the tire, and when they start to become flush with the tire, it is time to replace the tires.

There are more advanced tools out there, such as the tread depth indicator or gauge, but one easy method is the “Penny Test”.  Take a penny and place it upside down, with Lincoln’s face facing you.

  • If you can see the very top of Lincoln’s head or more, the tires need to be replaced ASAP.
  • If Lincoln’s hair is only some-what visible, you will need to buy soon.  This is a good time to start shopping around and comparing prices and deals.
  • If you can’t see any of Lincoln’s hair and the penny goes as deep as Lincoln’s forehead (at least), then your tires are in great shape and don’t need to be replaced anytime soon.

Make note of any irregular tread wear.  Irregular tread wear are signs that your wheels are misaligned, in need of a tire rotation, or both.  It is a good idea to ask for a tire rotation every time you take your car in for an oil change to make sure that the tread is wearing evenly.

If you notice any abnormal bulges or “bubbles” in the sidewall of the tire, this could be a sign that the rigid internal frame has been damaged or cracked.  This allows for air pressure to each the flexible outer layer of the tire.  Damage to the internal frame of your tire could be caused by driving over potholes or hitting a large curb which create the bulges and bubbles.  Eventually, these abnormalities could cause sudden tire failure or a potential blowout when driving at high highway speeds.  As soon as these problems arise, tires need to be replaced.

If you are unsure, the minimum time to replace tires is every 6 years, regardless of use.  Once your tires reach 6 years, drive with caution.  The absolute maximum life for tires is typically 10 years.  Check the owner’s manual to see specific recommendations for how often your vehicle could need a tire change or contact us if you have any questions!


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