You’ve got many of your auto service intervals down pat – you always take your car in for a regular oil change, you change the brakes when you need to and you even check your transmission fluid regularly. But have you been neglecting your tires?
The condition of your tires is often determined by the ‘penny test’ where you compare your tread levels to where they line up with the penny, but there’s more to it than that. Here’s what you need to know about tire maintenance in order to ensure that you have tire safety in mind.
Tire Safety and Ride Quality
The condition of your tires actually directly affects your car’s ride quality.
More specifically, tires affect your car’s handling, ride, braking ability, and overall safety. On a monthly basis, it’s recommended that you check your tires to make sure they have the correct air pressure, tread depth, balance and wheel alignment. As an owner, you can keep an eye on air pressure and tread yourself, but when you take your car in for regular auto service, consider adding wheel alignment and tire rotation and balancing to the list of things to check.
If you have a vehicle in storage or a car that you don’t use on a regular basis, chances are that sitting idle for an extended period of time has had an effect on the quality and safety of your tires. For example, an idle car can lead to degradation of tires and suspension; the suspension rubber will deteriorate when not driving. Rubber needs to be used consistently to remain in top condition. If you take your vehicle from idle to full use, your tires can experience cracking and flat-spotting quickly.
Ample tread depth or not, old tires can be a significant hazard on the road. In fact, Edmunds detailed two incidents where old tires were actually the primary cause of a fatal accident on the road.
The reason that tire age is a factor in the effectiveness of your tire and tread really comes down to how rubber degrades over time. As with any rubber, cracks begin to form as the rubber ages which can occur on both the visible and unseen areas of your tire. Eventually, the rubber on the tire can cause the steel belts in the tread to separate from the tire itself.
Tires that are 6 years or older are classified as unsafe. If you’re not sure how old your tires are, perhaps because you purchased your vehicle used or you got your tires secondhand, there is a code on the sidewall of your tire that can indicate how old it is.
When considering how old your tires are, it’s important to note that just because your tires are off the wheel doesn’t mean that it’s not in use. Even spare tires that are under your trailer or on the back of your G-Class Luxury SUV are considered in use – meaning that these tires will lose their effectiveness and safety after about 6 years.
This is a reason to be quite wary when purchasing used tires especially since you often will not be able to determine how old the tires actually are.
Other factors that affect your car’s tire quality and safety:
- Temperature, more specifically heat and sunlight, can expedite how the tire ages. If you live in a particularly warm climate, it’s best to keep a closer eye on the condition of your tires.
- Storage. Just because your tires aren’t mounted onto a vehicle doesn’t mean that they don’t age. While stored, tires still age, but at a slower pace than if they are on a vehicle.
- Usage conditions like inflation, driving habits, curbs and rough road conditions and irregular use can all speed up the rate of tire aging.
If you own a boat or trailer, don’t forget about these tires too – they are often the worst culprit since they are used infrequently throughout the year and are in storage the rest of the time – sometimes outside where fluctuations in temperate and climate can cause rapid aging.
Auto Service and Tire Safety
The safety of yourself and others on the road is of the utmost importance – which is why tire safety and auto service is so important for cars and any other vehicles you might have.
Not sure when you’ll have to say goodbye to your tires? Schedule your appointment at one of our three locations today! Contact us online here.