How to tell if you need tires

How To Tell If You Need New Tires

Every year in the U.S., tire-related crashes cause 200 fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Thankfully, it’s easy to monitor your tires, and how to tell if you need new tires, with a quick video and some basic information.

5 Warning Signs You Need New Tires

The primary functions of the tread on your tires are to grip the road and to divert water that causes hydroplaning. Tires with plenty of tread can help you maintain control and reduce your chances of getting a flat. With a quick monthly check of your tread and tire pressure, you’ll know if you need to replace your tires.

Tread Wear Bars are Flush with the Tread:

Tread wear bars are small, raised bits of rubber that run between the tread blocks. As these bars become even with the top of the tread, it is likely time for new tires. See more about tread wear bars below.

Cracked Rubber:

Tires will wear down over time, even if you don’t drive much. Sunlight, heat, and chemicals used to melt snow and ice can reduce rubber flexibility, causing tires to crack, lose air, and eventually fail.

Uneven Tire Tread:

There are many factors that may cause uneven wear, which could shorten the life of your tires. Vehicle alignment, tire pressure, lack of rotation, and/or worn steering and suspension components can all contribute to this problem. To prolong the life of your tires and reduce uneven wear, consider getting them rotated at consistent intervals. At Les Schwab, we recommend getting them rotated every 5,000 milles. The pros at Les Schwab will also conduct a free visual inspection of your steering and suspension components. Schedule your free, pre-trip safety check today.

Tire Pressure Issues:

All tires deflate slowly over time, usually about 1 PSI (pounds per square inch) per month. Check yours monthly to keep them properly inflated. If your tires continually lose air or seem to completely deflate without warning, you may need to stop by Les Schwab for tire repair or replacement if necessary. Does the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) light often appear on your dash? This could mean your tires have developed a slow, continuous leak.

Sidewall Bulges:

If you hit a curb, pothole or other obstacle, your tires can develop sidewall bulges due to a break of the inner liner. These bulges can rupture causing a potentially unsafe situation. If you spot a bulge on your tires, get to your nearby Les Schwab and have your tires inspected.

Other Possible Issues:

If you experience new vibrations or thumping while driving, it could be a sign that one of your tire/wheel assemblies is out of balance. It could also indicate a suspension issue. Stop by your local Les Schwab and our professionals will check your tires, steering, and suspension.

Easy Ways to Check Your Tread

Use the Tread Wear Bars

All tires sold in the United States today have what are called tread wear bars. The tread wear bars on your tires are there to help you see how much tread you still have. These wear bars are small, raised bars of rubber in the grooves of your tire. Look at the tread pattern and you’ll see these bars running between the tread blocks.

How do I use them to diagnose worn tires?

Look at the tread pattern and you’ll see these bars running between the tread blocks. As your tires wear, these bars will become increasingly flush with the tire’s tread. It’s important to replace your tires before this happens.

Depending on where and how you drive, and the conditions you face on the road, you might consider getting new tires before they reach that point. City driving in mild conditions may allow you to wait until the tread is closer to the tread wear bar before replacing your tires. More adverse conditions, such as rain, snow, and unpaved roads, may require you to replace your tires earlier.

Do the Penny Test

An easy way to check the tread on your tires is to do the penny test. Take a penny and place Lincoln’s head in one of the grooves of the tire tread. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace the tire.

If the penny goes in enough that the tire tread is at least as deep as Lincoln’s forehead, your tires are generally considered safe and do not need replacing. Check all four of your tires when conducting the penny test.

Ready to Find the Perfect Tires?

You’ll find your next set of tires at Les Schwab. You also find our world-class customer service at a tire shop near you that cares about your safety on the road.


5 Signs You Need New Tires


Take it from former race-car driver Johnny Unser—checking for telltale warnings of a worn-out tire is more important than you think.

“Checking your tires is like going to the dentist,” says Unser, five-time veteran of the Indy 500. “It’s something we don’t do often enough, that we put off until we absolutely have to.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tire failure causes around 11,000 car crashes each year. Both Unser and NHTSA recommend doing a quick tire inspection once a month to see if you need new tires.

How To Tell If You Need New Tires: What To Look For

  1. Bulges, gouges or cracks
    When a tire deflates, it bulges at the sides. Unser says this is a sign of low tire pressure or a slow air leak. “If you see cracks in the sidewall, gouges or anything that looks odd, take it in to your dealer and have them look at it.”
  2. Tread wear
    One of the best ways to tell if you need new tires is the old-school penny test: Place a penny into the tread, with Lincoln’s head pointing down. If you can still see the top of his noggin, the tread is dangerously low. Most modern tires, however, have wear bars: bits of rubber woven into the pattern at a specific depth. “You can find the wear bars that go across the groove, and if the tread pattern is worn down to that wear bar, you need to replace your tire,” says Unser.
  3. Tire pressure
    Tires deflate at a rate of about one pound per square inch (PSI) per month. “You’re not going to wear your tires down in a month,” Unser says, “but you should check that you have the right inflation pressure.”
  4. Temperature Changes
    Tire pressure drops in extreme cold. The challenge in summer, says Unser, is “excessive heat buildup in the tire.” If you’re heading out on a road trip with an underinflated tire, it will generate more heat and wear out faster.
  5. Vibration
    Watch out for vibration or thumping when you’re driving. If it feels like it’s coming from under the seats, the rear tires may be out of balance. Vibration from the steering wheel could indicate suspension issues. Unser says anything less than a smooth ride means you should take your car in to the dealer.

When it’s time to replace your tires, Unser recommends doing so in pairs or all four at a time for better performance and traction and, ultimately, a safer ride.

From a flat tire to a car that won’t start, be ready for anything with GEICO’s 24-hour Emergency Roadside Service.

By Maria Carter

Next article: Top 5 Tire Myths Debunked


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Five Signs You Need New Tires

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Just like your feet hurt after a long walk, the tires on your car take a hit every time you drive. This is not a sign of bad driving - it is rather an inevitable fact of life. Rubber ages and wears out. And since tire damage while driving can be disastrous, you need to know when your tires are in very bad condition so you can get new ones before something goes wrong.

Of course, if you have a personal mechanic who periodically inspects your car, he will probably tell you if the tires are worn out, but there are a few obvious facts that will point you to the need for a visit to the local car service.

We have listed five warning signs that will tell you when it's time to buy tires.

  1. The tire tread pattern must never fall below 1.6 mm in depth. You can buy a tread depth gauge like the pros do, but there's an old trick that will give you a rough idea of ​​how deep the tread is and it won't cost you more than $1. In fact, it requires a dime. You need to take a coin with a denomination of one ruble, insert the eagle's tail into the protector. If the eagle's tail remains visible, you are missing a protector. Need a new set of tires.
  2. The new tires have the convenience features that the old ones lacked. They have tread wear indicators built into the tires. These indicators, invisible and barely noticeable when the tires are new, gradually begin to appear as the tread wears. They are displayed as flat rubber. If more than one or two of these are visible on the tire, the tread becomes low. This should be especially evident on the wet paths that your tires leave after driving through a puddle. Use the "ruble test" above, but if lines start to appear on any or all of your tires, it's time for a tire change.
  3. Not all tire problems are tread problems. They can also be in the sidewall. Luckily, it's easy to do a visual inspection of the sidewall. You can find deformations or cracks with the naked eye. This could be a sign that your tire is about to bulge. This is definitely something you want to avoid. So if the cracks in the sidewall begin to look threatening, we rush to the car service.
  4. Sometimes the outer surface of the tire starts to weaken. This may result in a bulge or herniation that expands outward from the rest of the surface. This is a weak point that can cause a sudden blow if you do not send the machine to a service center. So pay attention to those bumps.
  5. Certain vibrations are inevitable when driving, especially on poorly paved roads, of which we have a great many, but if you have been driving on a normal section of the road and you feel vibrations, then something is going wrong. There are many reasons for vibrations - maybe your tires are crooked or out of balance or your shock absorbers are starting to let you down. But it can also mean that there are some internal problems inside the tires. Even if the tires aren't the cause of the vibration, the vibration itself can cause tire damage and you'll be in trouble very soon. So if your car vibrates on a normal road, take it to a mechanic. Constant vibration is almost always a sign that something is wrong.

So, if most of these signs apply to you, then you can start choosing a new tire in our tire catalog.

how to tell if the rubber is directional or not

  • Introduction

  • What is the feature of the directional tread pattern?

  • Advantages and disadvantages of

    directional tires
  • How to properly install directional tires

  • Conclusion

When choosing good tires, you often face the problem of not only a huge number of models, but also a variety of tread patterns, which also need to be sorted out. One of the most popular patterns is the traditional directional pattern, which has been used on the tread surface of a wide variety of tires for decades.

What are directional tires and why are they still in demand not only among motorists, but also among professional motorcycle racers? In the article, we will reveal all the secrets and technologies of directional tires, as well as show you how to install them correctly. Here, nuances and discoveries await us at every step.

There are four types of car tire tread pattern:

  • directional symmetrical,

  • non-directional symmetrical,

  • non-directional asymmetrical,

  • directional asymmetric.

Each drawing is created for its own version of the road and has its own set of advantages. Different tread patterns have different functionality and behavior on the road. When mounting tires on wheels, their own installation principles also work, which will need to be strictly observed so as not to create an emergency. We will talk about them in the corresponding section.

The essence of the directional tread design is clear at a glance: the blocks, ribs and tread grooves of the V-pattern are directional, spinning the wheel in a certain direction. Most often, directional tires are found in winter models, but there are many of them among summer ones. In symmetrical tires, both halves of the directional tread are mirrored, in an asymmetric design, both halves have a different structure and different functionality.

It is necessary to mount the wheels only in the right direction, otherwise all the advantages will come to naught, and at the same time problems with handling and accelerated wear will be added. Excessive strong pressure will accumulate in the center of the working area, due to which the tire will begin to rise above the road and harm traction in how many areas.

The directional tread pattern performs best on wet asphalt trails, as the grooves that widen from the center to the side zones are much better at shedding water from the contact surface. This not only improves grip on wet surfaces, but also works in favor of protection against the effect of hydroplaning. This works even better for a rear-wheel drive car - the front wheels will quickly clear the water before the rear axle sets foot on the road. Accordingly, contact with the track in such a car will be much more thorough.

The directional pattern of the winter models excels in raking snow and clearing dirt from the contact surface – ideal for snowy trails in the winter.

On a dry summer surface, they also give the car a couple of advantages - first of all, it concerns directional and lateral stability. For high-speed tires, this is one of the most relevant designs, as directional tires have a positive effect on the reactions of the car at high speed.

However, their driving disadvantage is the increased noise level during active work on asphalt, and the higher the speed, the stronger the rumble. Also, directional tires are more expensive than non-directional tires, but cheaper than asymmetric ones. It is better not to install directional tires if you often drive on dirt roads or are completely forced to drive off-road. They will not show effective work on soft and medium hard surfaces. For rural areas, a tread pattern with a non-directional arrangement of large lugs is better suited. Remember that, being put on disks, wheels with directional rubber can only be changed from the front axle to the rear and vice versa, but not rearranged on the sides. To do this, the tires will have to be disassembled and put as needed.

Although we've talked about directional tires, it's the symmetrical design that's most common. Asymmetric directional pattern is very rare. This is due to the fact that such tires are not only much more difficult and expensive to manufacture, but they have one serious drawback for car owners. Due to the very strict installation scheme for the car, constant difficulties arose with spares - I had to constantly carry two spare wheels with me instead of one, because you never know which tire will be damaged, and you can’t change directional asymmetric tires with sides. In addition, the warehouses constantly accumulated tires for only one side, which are completely useless without a paired wheel.

As mentioned above, one of the "secrets" of directional tires is their installation pattern. Simply put, you need to find the inscription Rotation (from the English. "Rotation") with an arrow on the sidewall. It is this marker that is an indicator - in which direction the tire pattern should “look” when installed on a car. If you make a mistake with the direction of rotation and put the rubber against the arrow, then the drainage system will rake in water like a mill, and not discard it, leveling all the advantages of the model, or even exacerbating them. The fact that the tires are installed incorrectly will tell you a sharply increased noise in the cabin.

If for some reason you could not find this marker, then you can do it even easier - pay attention to the tire tread pattern itself. The rubber of the directional design is a kind of "herringbone" that is directed forward. Simply mount the tires so that the tread pattern faces the direction of travel of the vehicle.

Rubber with an asymmetric device must only be mounted according to the marking, since each individual side is designed for its own tasks and should never be confused. The correct direction of asymmetric tires will help determine the labels:

  • Outside, or the outer side of the tire, must face outward.

  • Inside, or the inner side, respectively, looks inside the car.

Right and left asymmetric tires are much less common. Left (or simply L) will be written on one tire - it means that it must be placed to the left of the body, Right (R) - to the right. You can change them only on one side of the body - front with rear and vice versa.

But much more often, directional tires can be mounted on a rim on either side, the main thing is to follow the direction of the pattern.

And don't forget to balance freshly assembled wheels - tires will never reveal their advantages and characteristics without good balance.

Learn more