Fall into Winter Shoes for your Car

It’s fall…about to be winter.  You haven’t rotated or looked at your tires in a while.  Maybe you’ve always gone to the dealership for tires, or maybe you are like me and scrutinize the discount tires, tire rack or eBay looking for the best deal on tires and are a DIY kind of person.  No matter the case-it’s time to look at them!

By now, that little ugly light on your dashboard that looks like two parenthesis with an exclamation point inside of it in a beautiful amber or red color has already reared it’s head with the first temperature drop in your area…most likely when it went from 80 to 40 degrees like we did here in Texas a few weeks ago.  This is NOT the day to go to your friendly tire shop to start looking at tires, as the lines to air up tires and get these lights to go off are nuts.  Hopefully you’ve passed that first tire test of the season and you perhaps are rolling nicely this fall.  Let’s talk about your shoes for your car…

What do I need to know?  Rotate your tires every other oil change or every six months at the most.  Simple.

How do I know I need new tires, and what does 9/32, 5/32 or 2/32nd mean?  Plain and simple:  Most new tires are 10/32nd tread depth.  That’s how deep the “grooves” are in your tires’ tread.  5-6/32nds are about half worn and you will most likely need tires in a year or so.  Why is this important?  Grip on the road, handling in wet surfaces, gravel and all around terrain.  The lower the number the balder your tires.  If you see anything below a 4/32nd…it’s time to get new tires.  If you are a 2…you are bald.  Just like your head, bald is not cute.  Time to take action!

There are several ways to measure tread, my preferred and most tire shops, dealers and auto gurus use a tread measuring tool conveniently found anywhere you can buy automotive supplies, but you can also measure your tread the good ole’ fashioned way with a penny or quarter.  You can also go by mileage or just visually inspect your tires.  below I will illustrate all the methods.

On average, most tires today last ABOUT 30k miles.  That’s about two years of driving.  If you drive a minivan with thick cushy tires you may get 60k miles and if you drive a two seater with thin hard tires you most likely get 15k.  On average most of todays sedan and small SUV tires get about 30k miles or about two years based on a 15k average commute per year.  Some vehicles have larger tires in the rear than in the front-mainly sportier vehicles and this is called a staggered set up.  Typically they are more expensive and the ONLY way to rotate your tires is from side to side, which really doesn’t do much.  Some vehicles also have directional tires meaning they can only roll a certain direction and can only be rotated front to back, not all the way around.  If you have just normal every day tires that are the same size, it’s BEST if you can remember that every third time you rotate, tell them to go side to side not just front to back.

Thanks to companies like Discount Tire, they offer lots of education online and in store, which I borrowed below.  Also many companies now offer free air check, free TPMS light resets and free rotate/balance when you purchase tires from them.  If they don’t-maybe you should go to Discount Tire.  I’m not a paid employee nor do I receive any benefits from DT, but I will say they are one of the best.  Tirerack.com is great, Sams or Costco are great also.

Today’s blog won’t cover everything but I will say it is very common to have uneven wear on tires.  Most often you need an alignment.  It’s recommended to have an alignment at least once every 15k miles and every time you get a new set of tires.  The right balance on your tires can compensate for harsh roads, temperature variances, potholes air discrepancies and loads your vehicle might carry from time to time.  It’s also best to check different rows of tread on at least one front and one rear tire yourself to make sure your tires are wearing evenly.  I will cover that one in another blog.

So-let’s get to it…how to measure tread and what tread amounts require replacement.  Pictures tell a thousand words, so I’ll let you feast your eyes on these.  Till next time, keep the good times rolling!  Rolling with good tread that is.

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