What Causes Tire Wear
There are many factors that can cause tire wear, such as your driving style and tire maintenance habits. Tire replacement is absolutely needed when the tread wear indicators appear. Built-in tread wear indicators look like narrow strips of smooth rubber across the tread and become visible as the tire surface wears.
Measuring Tread Depth
A quick and easy way to check your tire wear is with a tread-depth gauge. These tools come in either digital or mechanical versions.
The easiest way to check wear on your tire is with a penny. Place a penny upside down in between the tire tread as shown on the right. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, the treads are worn and tire replacement is needed.
When To Replace Tires
Tread wear indicators appear when the tires only have 2/32” or less of tread remaining. Rubber in tires ages over time.
Other warning signs include:
- You can see three or more tread wear indicators around the tire
- The tire cord or fabric is showing through the rubber
- The tire tread or sidewall is cracked, cut, or snagged deep enough to show cord or fabric
- The tire has a bulge or split
- The tire has a puncture, cut, or other damage that can’t be repaired correctly
Proper wheel alignment is key to prolonging the life of your tires. If your vehicle is misaligned, it can cause your tires to wear unevenly, and you may experience handling problems such as pulling or abnormal vibration.
Consider a wheel alignment check if there is unusual tire wear or the vehicle is significantly pulling to one side or the other. A tire that is out of balance often affects ride quality and can shorten the life of tires, bearings, shocks, and other suspension components. If the vehicle is vibrating when driving on a smooth road, the tires and wheels may need to be rebalanced.
It’s a known fact that regular tire rotation extends the life of your tires and improves performance. Tires are rotated to achieve a uniform wear for all tires. Each tire performs different tasks (such as steering in front- versus rear-wheel drive), therefore tires wear at different rates. Tires should be rotated every 7,500 miles to prevent irregular tire wear.
It’s important to rotate your tires according to the correct tire-rotation pattern. Doing so will prolong the life of your tires and will reduce the risk of sudden tire failure. Front tires encounter different tasks than the rear tires. A front-wheel-drive car’s tires perform different tasks than those on a rear-wheel-drive vehicle.
Check your tires at least once a month when the tires are cold, meaning the vehicle has not been driven for at least three hours or no more than 1 mile. The Tire Information Label located on the inside of your doorframe has the recommended cold tire pressure for your vehicle.
Inflation pressure maintenance of tires is critical for overall tire and vehicle performance. Maintaining the correct inflation pressure allows the tire to perform as intended, including for comfort, fuel economy, stopping distance, cornering, traction, tread wear, and noise.