Are Your Tires Ready for Fall and Winter Rains?
Tires are something that most of us tend to not give much thought to. With the right maintenance, a good set of tires can go 50-60,000 miles before they wear to a point of needing to be replaced. When they wear that slowly, it can be really easy to take them for granted…until something goes wrong, that is.
The grooves and sipes (tiny angled or lateral slits in the tire tread) on your tires’ tread surface are designed to move water away from the tire contact patch. When your tires’ tread grooves wear too much, though, they can’t do a good job of evacuating water from the tires’ footprint area. At that point, the danger of hydroplaning goes way up. Hydroplaning is what occurs when your vehicle is actually skating on a thin film of water and the tires have lost contact with the road altogether. If you’ve ever felt a car hydroplane while you’re driving, you’d know it – and it’s a terrifying sensation.
Tires are designed with lateral “wear bars” at the base of the tread grooves. These bars, at right angles to the tread, are only exposed when tires reach a minimum tread depth. There are other easy ways to check your tread depth, however, before the wear bars are exposed:
--Stick a penny into the tread grooves, Lincoln’s head down. If the rubber touches the top of Abe’s head (but barely), your tires are at a depth of 2/32”, which is the minimum tread depth in just about every state.
--Try the coin test again, except with a quarter this time. If the tread surface reaches the top of Washington’s head, your tread depth is 4/32”.
--One more time with the penny. Does the tread surface reach the Lincoln Memorial? If so, your tread depth is a respectable 6/32” and the tires should be safe for another 10-20,000 miles.
New tires aren’t just safer. They’re also quieter, with better handling and ride quality on dry pavement. One thing’s for sure, though – bald tires on wet pavement are a bad combination, and your car can easily get away from you with possibly disastrous results. If it’s time for a set of tires on your vehicle, don’t put it off – make an appointment with us at AutoTread in Birmingham, AL and check out our selection of top-brand, premium tires.