Driving on old, worn tires can lead to a flurry of issues. Whether they are dry rotted or simply running out of tread from rough roads and heavy use, driving on these tires could lead to damages beyond rims and rubber. Protect yourself and your vehicle from blowouts by replacing old, worn tires with no tread. Don’t just rely on the penny test, especially if tires are really old!
Why Tires Need Tread
Tread acts as the passageway through which air and water can pass. Rolling over water on a tire with little to no tread can lead to a high risk of hydroplaning, which occurs when water on the road has no way to pass through a tire. Air passes through these channels as well, acting as a cooling mechanism as tires generate heat from the friction caused by rolling at high speeds. High levels of heat can cause blowouts on old rubber. Southern Louisiana doesn’t experience snow or cold weather often, so most people have summer tires equipped all year. It should be noted that driving on snow-covered roads or ice should be avoided if you do not have the proper tires, especially if they’re bald.
How Long Should Tires Last Until Replacement?
With all matters aside, tire blowouts can happen at nearly any time while on the road. The real question is, how long will a tire last? This question is a matter of location, driving habits, and other lifestyle factors. If you own a sports car in Louisiana, one would assume your tread wear would be quicker than that of a soccer mom in a minivan, casually driving her children around town. All of these factors aside, some indications of a needed tire replacement are thinning tread or cracking in the sidewall from age and sun.
Tire Checking Tips
As explained previously, there are a few ways to inspect tires yourself. Tire cracking comes with tire age and is natural for every tire. Minimal cracking is actually normal, but after a period of time, these cracks can get larger and cause the tire to separate; so, if you notice large cracks on a tire, it could be time for replacement.
A traditional trick to checking a tire’s tread is taking a penny and placing it inside of the tread groove to calculate tread wear. Place the penny upside down, with Lincoln’s head facing you; if you can see the entirety of the head (hair as well), it’s time for a change of tires. However, if most of the head is not visible, they still have decent life left. Another way to check your vehicle’s tires is to check for age. Since the year 2000, tires are required by the U.S. to have a DOT code. This code can tell you age as well as some other facts about the tire.
Although you may be able to check your tires visibly for a few imperfections, it’s always a good idea to get them checked by tire professionals. Stay away from used tires, as they may be old and worn. Tires are the first thing separating you from the road and its dangers, so keep tabs on their drivability often!