Tires are arguably one of the most important items on your car. No other part has more of an effect on how your car operates and performs. Your tires wear just a little bit every time you drive, overtime the operation of your vehicle becomes affected.
So, what is it about tires that is so important? Friction. We need friction. To stop, to go, to turn. We need friction to be high when we need to stop fast, we need friction to be low while we are cruising down the road so our fuel mileage can be maximized. Your tires are the only part of the car that makes contact with the driving surface and that’s where all the friction takes place.
So how do you decide on what tires will suit your needs based on road conditions and tire options!?!
The answer is not so simple. Tires are like shoes, there are a lot of things to consider when choosing them: the type of “race” you will be running, the type or runner you are, and how they look even matters to some. The key is to find a shop or tire professional that asks you these types of questions. Where do you drive? Do you like your current tires? Do you plan on keeping your car? What is important to you as the driver, comfort, performance, longevity, pricing?
How can I tell if my tires are worn out?
Every tire has tread wear indicator bars or, you can ask Abraham Lincoln. That’s right use a penny! Place the penny with good ol’ Abe’s head face down in the tread. If you can see all of Abe’s hair the tread is worn to less than 2/32 of an inch and should be replaced. Again, using a trusted tire professional will give you more insight on wear patterns, alignment issues, and wear, but the 16th president will sure be of assistance in a pinch and is a good place to start.
Is tire age a problem?
It can be. Overtime your tires start to degrade regardless of the tread wear or how much you drive them. In addition to infrequent use, exposure to sunlight and warmer climates, poor storage, and poor maintenance also contribute to tire aging. As the rubber degrades, its ability to grip the road and durability are affected.
How can I tell if my tires are outdated?
Every tire has a date of manufacturing. Why is this important? Well, let’s say you buy some tires from a big internet company. They make the sale and then pick them up for shipment from their warehouse. Maybe those tires have been on the shelf for years. Maybe they were under a stack of tires that have been overlooked. We have had tires shipped to us from warehouses and upon inspection, before installation have found them to be years older than our purchase date. Therefore, it is important to know how to tell how old the tires actually are to avoid this. Here is how you can tell..
Tires made after 2000 have a four-digit DOT code. The first two numbers represent the week in which the tire was made. The second two represent the year. A tire with a DOT code of 1208 was made in the 12th week of 2008.
How long should tires last?
Think about this. In 2013 Actor Paul Walker was in a car accident where he lost his life as a passenger of a car that lost control and skid into a tree. It was found that the vehicle had tires on it that were over 9 years old. Tires will never save anyone from the most reckless driving but a tire’s ability to grip the road will have an effect of control in any situation. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Association) does not have an official stand on how old you should keep tires and instead defers to manufacturer recommendations. Between tire companies and vehicle manufacturer the common answer is between 6-10 years your tires are considered outdated and should be replaced. Again, a trusted tire professional is going to be a great consultant when judging whether a tire is ready for replacement.
Tire buying options.
Order them online? Purchase in a bulk warehouse store? Or buy them from your local automotive shop? Again, here is a situation that has no perfect answer. You will have to decide what is most important to you. Price? Convenience? Speed of service? Warranty/Road Hazard? When buying tires, it is our opinion you choose the option you can trust the most and the option that will serve you the best.