Knowing When To Replace A Tire

Almost every driver knows when it’s time to have his or her vehicle’s engine inspected: when the check engine light on the dashboard stays lit. But other than a puncture, there’s no easy way to know when it’s time to get a tire fixed. When it comes to tires, a driver has to be mindful of the situation and make sure that the tires are safe enough to allow proper driving.

Here’s how that’s done:

Check the Age

It’s a simple fact, but it’s one that few people remember: rubber ages just like anything else. It’s actually pretty dangerous to drive on tires that are too old, because they can increase the risk of the rubber giving out and having the tire fall apart. In a northern state such as New Jersey, where snow and ice are a hallmark of winter, old tires can have trouble with slippery roads. That’s why tire shops in Newark, NJ, make sure that drivers are exiting their shops with tires that are new enough to protect drivers.

How can a driver check the age? Look at the last four digits of the DOT code on the tire’s sidewall. The Department of Transportation provides a guide that helps a driver determine the exact age of a tire, using the week and year that it was manufactured. The first two digits are the week of the year it was made, with the last two corresponding to the year. If a tire features “4913” as its last four digits of its DOT code, you know that tire was made in the 49th week of 2013, placing its manufacturing date at the middle of December. Keep in mind that only tires made after 2000 follow this formula, as tires made before this date used only three digits. If a tire does use three digits, don’t even consider it. A 16-year-old tire is asking for trouble. Most tires should be replaced every 5-10 years, depending on brand and mileage.

Check the Tread

One of the easiest ways to check whether a driver is using safe tires is the penny test. It’s become popular, because Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States, and coincidentally, 1/16th of an inch is the minimum amount of tread for tires to be considered safe. The test consists of sticking a penny into the tread and seeing whether Lincoln’s head is at all obscured. If part of his head is blocked by the tire, the tire still has enough tread to be safe. If Lincoln’s entire head is visible, the tire is at 1/16th of an inch or less and must be replaced as soon as possible.

Tread fades with high mileage, so it’s a good idea to run this test regularly to ensure that if a tire needs replacing, it isn’t a surprise. Once every 3-6 months should be sufficient with most tires.

Don’t Buy Used Tires

Used cars are a good idea. Used tires really aren’t. With a used tire, it’s impossible to know how well the tires were treated by the previous owner and what kind of conditions they’ve experienced. It’s best to stick with new tires sold by a reputable tire store.

Tires are not something to be overlooked. If a driver isn’t careful and ignores a bad or aging tire, it might be a life-threatening mistake. Tire shops in Newark, NJ,will be happy to help drivers fix their old tires and get back on the road quickly — before it turns into a major hazard that puts everyone on the road at risk.