Learning How to Recognize the Signs of Tire Wear

Sooner or later, the tires on your vehicle are going wear. Depending on how much you travel, this can happen within a few weeks or it can happen within a few months. Either way, it is important that you understand what a worn out tire looks like.

And don’t let that last sentence confuse you- a worn tire isn’t necessarily all about outside appearance. Cheap car insurance rates are much easier to come by if you maintain a safe vehicle (a.k.a. make sure your tires are up to par). You’ll need to check the alignment and balance of your tires too.

The Side Effects of Worn Tires

Worn out tires on your vehicle are dangerous. For one, as a tire become more and more worn down it deflates quicker. Once this happens, excessive heat is created which then increases the amount of fuel your vehicle consumes. However, the more hazardous side effect to a worn tire is that it makes your vehicle much harder to handle. You won’t have the acute control like you are used to having with fresh tires.

Old, worn out tires also tend to blow much more frequently than newer ones. This is very dangerous because it usually comes without warning and forces the driver into a tough spot on the road. Also note, newer tires which are not aligned properly can completely wear out in as little as one day of non-stop driving. This is why it’s equally important to check the balance and alignment of your tires.

Checking Your Tires

The easiest way to spot a poor tire is the check the tread wear (basically, checking the tire itself). Get on eye level of your tire and check for any foreign objects which may be embedded in it. For example, do you see any stones, nails, or other sharp objects which have the potential to puncture your tire? If so, then remove them immediately.

Place your eye directly near the spot where you removed the object. Do you hear a hissing sound? If you do hear a hissing sound then that means that you have a leak. Place the object back into the hole and have it worked on by somebody who knows what they are doing. The important thing here is that you don’t remove the foreign object all of the way- only enough to determine if there is a leak or not. If there isn’t, then you can proceed to remove it completely.

Next move on to the sidewalls located within your tires. Check for bubbles, bulges, slits, worn areas, or holes. Rub your hand along the inside (carefully) to get a better feel. Then ask yourself, “Are my tires fit nice and tight around my rims?” If they are not, then you should consider hiring a professional.

Checking Your Threads

Now it’s time to analyze your threads. This is one area which most people tend to overlook when checking their tires. Lucky for you, manufactures have made this step fairly simple. Most vehicles have something called “tread wear indicators” built onto their tires. If you’ve ever spent any time whatsoever looking at a tire then you’ve probably seen what they look like.

These are basically very thin and very small “rubber hairs” which stick up off of your tire. They are normally very difficult to spot unless the tire they are on has become worn down. The legal limit for these threads is 1/16 of inch away from the surface of the tire. If they go below that, then you legally must have your tire changed. This isn’t only to avoid a ticket- it could potentially save your life.


Finally, pay attention and watch out for leaks. If you are driving a newer vehicle then a small light usually appears alerting you that a tire is low on air. With older vehicles, it really comes down to feel. If your vehicle is becoming harder to handle, use a gauge to determine if each of your tires have enough air. The amount of PSI is located on the tire itself so that you know how much air there should be.

About the Author

Melissa Cameron is a freelance writer providing valuable tips and advice for consumers looking for cheap car insurance rates. Her numerous articles offer money saving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics. Melissa loves surfing the Internet, looking for deals and learning new things. In fact, her husband fondly calls her the walking infomercial!

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