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Five Signs You Need New Tires

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Where your tires meet the road affects traction, handling, steering, stability and braking. Tires wear over time, so it’s important to be watchful for the signs that of wear so that you can replace them before something goes wrong. A sudden tire failure can have serious consequences, especially if it occurs at highway speeds or in a vehicle with a high center of gravity, such as a truck or SUV. Doing a monthly visual check of your tires can help you spot these tire warning signs.

Tire Warning Signs:

1. Take the Penny Test

Tires are designed with treads that provide your vehicle with traction. When the tread gets worn down, the water, snow, and other slippery substances don’t have anywhere to go except directly under your tires, severely decreasing your vehicle’s ability to maintain contact with the road. You can easily tell if your tires’ tread is too worn by using a penny or a quarter.

The Penny Test is the gold standard for measuring tire tread depth because it’s easy and it works. Just take a penny and, with Lincoln’s head upside down, put it between the tread blocks of the tire. If you can’t see the top of Lincoln’s head - if his head is "buried" between the tread blocks - then you still have more than 2/32 of an inch of tread remaining. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to find new tires because the tread is worn down to or beyond 2/32 of an inch.

2. Look for Treadwear Patterns

There are so many different scenarios that can cause the tires on your vehicle to wear unevenly or prematurely: misalignment, underinflated tires or overinflated tires. Figuring out the cause is extremely difficult when you don’t know what to look for.

Our Treadwear Patterns Guide will help you identify what might be happening with your tires and offer possible causes and solutions. The most common patterns are center wear and shoulder wear, which are caused by overinflation and underinflation, respectively. Keeping your tires properly inflated and regularly rotated can help reduce your chances of uneven or premature wear.

3. Cracks on The Sidewall

Tire damage can also appear in the sidewall. To find this, look for tracks or cuts in the sidewall. There will be grooves that are distinct enough to be visible upon first or second glance. Sidewall cracks are a sign that your tire is developing a leak. Locate your local Pep Boys as soon as possible and start talking about getting them replaced.

4. Bulges and Blisters

If the outer surface of the tire begins to weaken, bulges or blisters extending out from the tire’s surface can appear. These weak spots can cause a tire to blow out suddenly. So keep your eye on tire bulges and blisters and make an appointment if you start to see anything extending off the tires’ surfaces. Visit our tire safety article to learn more about avoiding a tire blowout.

5. Too Much Vibration

A certain amount of vibration is inevitable when driving, especially on bumpy roads. If you’ve been driving for a while, you probably know how much vibration feels right and how much means something’s off. An out-of-balance wheel will create a vibration or shake that becomes progressively worse as the vehicle’s speed increases. The vibration or shake usually starts at 40 to 50 mph and becomes more intense as you go faster. This could indicate that your tires are misaligned or unbalanced or that your shock absorbers are starting to go. It could also signal that there’s a problem inside the tire itself. Even if the tire isn’t the root of the problem, the vibration could damage the tire.

Properly balanced wheels can improve driver safety, reduce tire wear, increase fuel efficiency and minimize steering wheel vibration - give you a smoother, more comfortable ride. If you are experiencing a vibration in your steering wheel and/or through your seat, or if your tires have an irregular wear pattern, your tires may be out of balance. The tire professionals at Pep Boys will help protect your tire investment by maintaining the balance for the lifetime of the tire.

It is recommended to replace your tires in sets of four for all vehicles but particularly important for all-wheel-drive vehicles. All four tires should be the same size, brand, tread design, construction and tread depth to prevent differences in the outer diameter of each tire. Even small differences may cause drivetrain damage or mechanical malfunction.