Your tires are arguably among the most important components of your car. They ensure good traction on the road, of course. However, they also have to do with everything from smooth handling to maximum fuel economy. Despite this, some drivers have quite a few misconceptions about car tires. If you’re among them, you’re putting yourself at risk for accidents and car trouble. With that in mind, let’s bust some common myths:
Some skeptics ask if it’s really worth getting your tires rotated. The simple answer is yes. Tire rotations usually cost around $20, and they allow your tires to last for much longer. (Improving handling and reducing the likelihood of an accident in the meantime). That’s $20 well spent.
If you’re wondering when to get new tires, you’ve probably been told, you should use the penny test. Stick a penny upside-down into your tire’s tread, and if the top of Lincoln’s head is still visible, you need new tires. The problem with this test is that you may actually need new tires long before the test indicates you do. The penny test is based on a target tread depth of about 2/32 of an inch, but this should be considered an absolute minimum for safe tread depth. If you drive anywhere with rain or other tough conditions, you should be aiming for 4/32 or even 6/32 of an inch.
If you can only afford two new tires, it’s commonly said, you should put them on the front two wheels. But the reverse is actually true; rear tires are the ones that provide stability -- regardless of whether you have a front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle -- so new tires should go in the back if you absolutely can’t afford a full set.
People sometimes shy away from used tires, but there's not a lot of backing for that. Yes, you’ll need to learn to inspect them a little more carefully, but you may be able to get some great deals by being open to buying used. It’s more about where you buy your tires. You most likely have a lot of options in your area. Not all auto repair shops sell tires, of course, but take a look at these figures: There are about 87,032 auto repair businesses in the U.S. and 701,100 auto mechanics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the auto repair industry is projected to grow by 9% in the decade between 2012 and 2022. It’s worth sorting through a few shops to find one you trust because once you do you’ll be able to take advantage of cost-saving strategies such as buying used tires without worrying.
As long as your tire pressure warning light doesn’t come on, you’re good, right? Wrong. That indicator will only let you know if your pressure is dangerously low, so you’ll want to either get your pressure checked at the shop on a regular basis or learn to use an old-fashioned tire pressure gauge.
Any more car-related popular wisdom you want to be fact-checked? Let us know in the comments.
When to Replace Your Car Tires? You know, of course, that your tires are important. But are you giving them the attention that you should? According to a recent car maintenance survey, 77% of cars need maintenance or repairs. So how do you know when to get new tires -- and which ones should you use? Here are the basics of what you should know about your tires:
Especially among young drivers, tire rotation is commonly neglected. But it’s important for several reasons. First of all, since the goal of tire rotation is to even out wear patterns on individual tires, regular tire rotation can make your tires last longer. Tire rotation also helps with handling a car, ensuring that it doesn’t pull to one side or the other when you’re trying to steer. Tire rotation can even contribute to better gas mileage. The good news is that, unlike the dreaded auto repair estimates you get from shops regarding something like engine or transmission fixes, tire rotation is extremely affordable. Depending on where you bought your current tires, you may be able to get them rotated there for free. But even if you pay, it should be in the range of $20. How to Replace Your Car Tires.
Even if you get your tires rotated every 3,000 to 7,000 miles, you’ll eventually need to replace them. You can know when to get new tires based on a few signs. The classic is the “penny test,” in which you insert a penny upside down into your tread. If Lincoln’s whole head remains visible, it’s time to change your tires. If you’re a numbers person, that means your tread depth should never be less than 1/16 of an inch. Also, if you have newer tires, it’s likely they have a treadwear indicator built-in. This is a strip that’s barely visible when your tires are installed -- when a thin bar appears, it’s time for a new set. Of course, obvious signs of damage, such as cracks or blisters, also mean it’s time.
With over 87,000 auto repair shops in the United States, how can you decide where to buy tires and get them installed? Some places will offer bigger selections than others, but there are a few things you should always look out for, such as a range of prices. The first thing to do is look at either your tire itself or the owner’s manual to find your tire size. However, deciding to replace a tire with a larger or smaller size can have some positive results (ask your technician for specifics) as long as the tire is still rated for the weight of your vehicle and the speeds at which you generally drive.
At some places, you’ll get a choice between new and used tires. New tires are always your best bet, but there are plenty of used tires with life left in them. Just be sure to inspect carefully, checking more than tread depth. Separation is a particularly bad sign. Also be sure to buy from a trustworthy dealer, since some used tires have dry rot and can become a driving safety hazard.
Do you have any more tips to share on when to get new tires? Join the discussion in the comments. Thank you for reading our article on When to Replace Your Car Tires.