A quick tire inspection only takes a few minutes of your time, and can help you catch problems before they become expensive or dangerous. Here is how to quickly check your tires for potential problems.
1. Look for Uneven and Odd Wear Patterns
How your tires wear can tell you a lot about the condition of the tires and your car overall. If a tire isn't wearing evenly, it can mean you need an alignment. Uneven wear can also point to a suspension problem.
If a tire shows wear only on one part of the tire or in an odd configuration, your tires may have inflation issues.
- Wear on only the edges of a tire can indicate too little tire pressure
- Wear only down the center of the tire can indicate too much tire pressure
A tire with wear that doesn't match a pattern can also indicate a suspension issue. No pattern means your tire has a balance issue, or you're aggressively hitting certain things too often, like speed bumps.
Solutions to uneven wear and other wear issues can include:
- Ensuring you have the right amount of pressure in your tires
- Ensuring proper wheel alignment with a balance and rotation
Paying attention to your tire pressure can do wonders for the longevity of your tires. Make sure you check the air pressure now and then when at the gas station.
2. Look for Tire Damage and Obvious Problems
Damaged tires represent a risk to you and those around you. You can get by with some smaller types of damage, but any indication of damage means you should start considering new tires. Tire damage can include:
- Tread separation
Besides damage, you should also look for anything out of the ordinary. For example, a screw or nail stuck in your tire can go unnoticed for a long time.
Unless you're comfortable with patching a tire, you shouldn't remove anything you find stuck in the tire. Instead, take your care to a tire services shop to have the tire professionally repaired or replaced.
3. Check the Amount of Tread Wear
Tires wear naturally, and some wear isn't a cause for concern. Nevertheless, too much wear is a danger as well as a sign that your tires need replacement. The classic penny test should let you know if you have too much tread wear.
Stick a penny between a tire tread with Lincoln's head pointing downward. If the tread covers all of Lincoln's head, then you're good. If you can still see all or most of Lincoln's head, you should consider new tires.
If in doubt, seek the help of a professional tire shop. A professional can help you determine if your tires need help, or if your car needs new tires.