When it comes to tires, there are two tell tale signs yours are in trouble: You'll feel the steering wheel vibrate while driving or your vehicle will start to pull to one side.
But you can avoid these scenarios with occasional inspection.
“The best way to maintain your tires is to do a periodic, just visual inspection of your tires,” says Angie Hicks of Angie's List. “If you see cracks on the sidewalls, it may be time to get them replaced.”
Hicks adds, “If you see a bulge in the side of your tire, you definitely want to get it replaced because you're likely going to have a blowout soon.”
If you have a punctured tire, Hicks says it's safe to patch as long as the hole is less than a quarter-inch wide and located on the crown of the tire, not near the edge or sidewall.
As for worn tread, experts say your tires are no longer safe when they're under 2/32's of tread.
Hicks says it's pretty easy to perform the tire safety test.
“Stick a penny upside down in the top of your tire, and if you can see the top of Abe Lincoln's head, then your tire tread is way too low and you need to replace your tires,” says Hicks.
It's always best to replace all four tires if you can afford it, but if just one or two tires are worn down, you don't need to buy a whole new set — as long as the tires you're not replacing are fairly new.
“If you have an all-wheel drive vehicle, if you replace one tire, there can't be more than 5/32 of tread difference between the other three,” says Chris Fox, a tire expert. “If so, it can create problems with the differential, the drive-line system.”
When buying new tires, make sure they really are new. Check the D-O-T number on the sidewall — the last four digits indicate the week and the year that tire was made. Don't consider anything made more than a year ago.
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