Replacing tires are expensive affairs. And this is why most car owners delay the inevitability until the very last moment. If you fall into that group, remember that Paul Walker died in the accident of 2013 because he was driving his Porsche Carrera GT on 9-year-old tires. The investigation by the California Highway Patrol later revealed that the car’s handling was seriously compromised owing to the old tires. Hydroplaning, skidding, loss of traction, and tread peel-off, all might happen if you do not get your tires replaced at the proper time. You need to get a new set before the old ones go out of commission and keep money aside every month if the regular investments seem too high. So, how do you know that it is time to replace your tires? When should you inspect on your own and when should you contact a professional? Here is your exhaustive guide.
The renowned penny test
This is, by far, the quickest way to check your tire condition. All you need is a penny. Insert it on the middle tread of the tire you want to inspect with Lincoln’s head towards the tire and check to what extent the penny penetrates. If the tread ends just above Lincoln’s head or if Lincoln’s head is fully visible after insertion, it is then time to change your tires. However, if any part of Lincoln’s head is obscure by the tread, then the tire is still good to go. No matter how quick, the process is not that reliable. Technically, the penny test checks for a tread depth of around 2/32” or lower. The best buy here pay here car lot, however, maintains that a tire should be replaced when the tread depth is near the 4/32” mark as anything lower negatively affects the stopping distance during emergency brakes. Conduct the penny test with caution. If you see that Lincoln’s head is just about to show, contact a professional, and consider a replacement.
The year of the tire
You may also think about getting replacements by keeping a tab on the number of years that the tires have been in service. On the tires, you will find a few numbers. The last four digits that are preceded by the acronym DOT tells you the year and week of manufacture of the tire. For instance, if you find the numbers 2115 etched on the tire, this means that the tire was manufactured in the 21st week of the year 2015. 2020 will then mark the 5th year of the tire’s service. As a rule of thumb, most manufacturers suggest a tire replacement after every 6 years. They also advise taking your tires for a semi-annual checkup by a professional after it has run for 5 years. But Family Auto has found that many tires had suffered significant tread loss just after 3-4 years and screamed for replacement when the odometer reading showed an average of 12,000-15,000 miles per year. Here again, avoid keeping 6 years as your replacement benchmark. Depending on your driving habit, seek professional help as early as 3 years.
The environment of your town/city
All good buy here pay here car lots will tell you that both the penny test and the year benchmark only work under ideal conditions. That is, the road you drive on is smooth and dry. Your town does not see scorching summers or relentless rains. But the ideal is rarely the case as even the city speed bumps exert tremendous forces on tires that they can do without. Unfortunately, you have no way to detect the impact of heat, water, or snow on your tires just by looking at it. Neither can you say for sure that the tires are safe to be taken out on a wet road. Treads are what keep you safe when rain has drenched your town and the 2/32” does not work.
If you see frequent rains or snow, you will want deeper tread groves. These help to trap water from the road and roll them over while rotating, thereby maintaining traction. Heat cracks rubber from the inside and the tread layer may completely come off due to the tire’s structural failure. If such is your town’s environment, it is wise to get your tires inspected annually by a professional. A replacement might be necessary just after 4 years. Keep these in mind while shopping for used cars as well. Research and visit only that buy here pay here car lot which talks on these lines instead of the common norms. There is no right time to get your tires replaced. It all comes down to your driving habits, road conditions, and car maintenance schedules.