Tires - how to know when it's time to change them?
Tire blowouts aren't a pretty sight. If you're lucky, you will spew rubber everywhere and clunk safely to the side of the road. If you're not lucky, you could end up in a bad situation, and it's probably best you know how to handle your car in case of a tire blowout. However, to help you avoid such a situation, it's best to know when to change your tires because nothing lasts forever - especially your tires, sadly.
What is in a tire?
Although tires don't last forever, they are usually made to last for quite a long time. Depending on how long you've had your tires and how many miles you've put on them, you should have your tires for at least a few years before having to replace them. But what makes a tire so sturdy? Isn't it just rubber and metal? How does your tire keep your car floating comfortably above the road?
Well, your tire is made of several layers:
The first layer on the inside is the "inner layer." Before contemporary tires came along, we all used innertubes to inflate our tires. These were actual rubber tubes placed around the wheel and then inflated.
Today, innertubes are either used for bike wheels or riding down snowy slopes, and the inner layer of your tire is there to seal the air in.
Carcass ply is the bones of your tire. They give your tire the strength it needs to withstand the harsh bumps on the road without breaking apart.
The beads of your tire are there to create a tight seal against the drum of your wheel. They are rigid and clamp firmly to your wheel.
The sidewall is the shock system of your tire, keeping it from losing shape.
Crown plies are the foundation for your tread. They keep the tread ridged so that it can grip the highway while you grind gears.
Tread is the part of the tire that keeps you on the road. If this is worn away, you slide all over the place and spin your wheels.
What are some indications you need to change your tires
You may not always be able to determine your tire damage or know when to change them. But some damage can be undeniable, and there are some metrics to go by when assessing your tires.
As we pointed out in the section above, your sidewall is essential in keeping your tire rigid. If there is damage to your sidewall, you might need to change your tire.
If you notice a bubble in the sidewall, don't drive your vehicle. Change it out with the spare and take it to your tire specialist. A bubble means there has been serious internal damage to the tire. Its integrity has been compromised. We can't stress enough how important it is not to drive on a tire with this kind of damage.
If you notice a cut in your sidewall, see if it's deep. If it is, take it in to get seen. The cut may not be a problem, but better safe than sorry when it comes to your tires, they can be a matter of life and death with cars.
Puncture wounds on tires sometimes penetrate all the way through. The greatest offenders are usually screws. If you notice something sticking into your tire, leave it there and drive to your nearest mechanic. However, if you have a long way to drive, switch to the spare to be on the safe side.
Another indication you might need to replace your tires is performance degradation.
One performance issue could be a loss of air. If you find yourself topping up your tires once a week or more, there's probably something wrong. You should be checking your tires' air regularly anyway. But if you are and you're finding them low regularly, then you should take them in to get checked out by a specialist.
Do you feel a bit of vibration in the wheel while driving? Do your tires hum more than usual on the highway? Your wheels might be off-balance, or there might be something more serious going on. Get a qualified mechanic to check out your wheels and your tyres.
If your tires wear too thin, you could risk a blowout. The tread is there to protect you and keep you on the road. It's essential to monitor the tread on your tires and have your tyres rotated every 5,000 miles to keep them healthy. But what constitutes a too worn tread?
Tires can wear unevenly if not rotated properly. You can have them wear on one side if they're attached to the front end of a rear-wheel-drive vehicle.
To combat this, some mechanics will over-inflate your tires to make them run on the center of the tire. Over-inflation is a neat trick as it allows the tread to wear in the middle. But if a customer doesn't know to keep that pressure, the wheel will eventually go back to rubbing on the thin tread again.
One more thing you should consider when thinking about your tires and when to change them is age.
Pay attention to the warranties on your tires. If you're rotating them regularly, they should last the warranty and more. If you are coming up on the warranty, make sure you are even more vigilant about tyre breakdown.
Interested in similar topics? You may also be interested in this article: DIY - 5 good reasons to get into do it yourself zone
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