No other part of your vehicle is subjected to more bumps, jars, screeches and burn-outs than your tires. With all that consistent use and abuse, Buchanan’s Service Centers recommends assessing your tires at least once a month for wear and tear.

You don’t have to rely on a pro to make that call because with these visual and performance cues, you can check your own tire’s health and decide if it has more life or needs replacement.

Wear Bars
Every tire has a built-in system for determining tread life. Manufactured within the tire’s groove are ridges, or wear bars, spaced inches apart all around the tire. On a new tire the wear bars are deep within the grooves, well below the tire surface. Over the thousands of miles of driving—even locally—the tire tread wears down and decreases. You’ll notice the tire grooves are diminishing. If your tire’s surface is ever close or even with those wear bars it means that your tire has worn down to only 2/32 of tread. That’s a sure indicator the balding tire is less effective on the road, especially wet pavement, with not enough tread and traction to effectively maneuver and suddenly stop the car in the shortest amount of space. Your safety is at risk and it’s time to replace that tire.

The Penny Check
Another common, easy way to check your tread is using a penny. Turn the penny so that Lincoln’s head faces down and place it in the tire’s groove. When your tire has high tread you shouldn’t be able to see penny’s edge or even most of Lincoln’s head. But If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tire’s tread is too shallow and the old tire should be replaced.

Just as important as the tread are the sides or walls of your vehicle’s tires. Cracks on the sides of tires are signs of stress and fatigue on the tire wall. A weakening wall can preclude a tire blowout hitting the right pot hole or other severe bump. It’s best to check the walls on both sides of the tire. So you not only have to get to the level of the tire to assess the outer walls, but also grab a flashlight, get on your back and scoot just enough under the vehicle to inspect the inner tire walls as well.

Proper Tire Inflation
Proper inflation is essential to your tire’s life. Information on the manufacturer’s proper tire inflation can be found on the driver door or door jam and in the owner’s manual. If your tires are typically under-inflated or over-inflated the tire will not wear properly and likely have a much shorter life. If your tire regularly looses air, the slow leak may be fixed with a plug or caused by small cracks in the tire. Unfortunately, tire cracks can not be repaired and the tire will need to be replaced.

The Feel of Driving Your Car
A rough ride can also indicate tire damage or excessive wear. If you notice any vibrations or other disturbances while driving, reduce speed and have your tires inspected as soon as possible. Those vibrations may be a warning that the tire is about to blowout.

Learning how to assess your tires’ health can help you avoid a tire blowout, and even an accident. It can can also save from being misled into unnecessary tire changes. When you do have questions and concerns, trust us at Buchanan’s Service Center in Omaha for honest evaluation, professional repair or proper tire replacement.