First, there’s the sound, a loud “POP, whssssssh!” Then, you’re startled due to the fact that your car is hard to control (otherwise completely uncontrollable). You grab the wheel with white knuckles and guide your car (which is now behaving like a barge in the middle of a hurricane) towards the side of the road. You breathe a sigh of relief, having saved each one of the passengers and property in your vehicle (you were towing your best friend Nugget to the veterinarian for a shot, and after that, you were headed to Goodwill to deliver a few dozen pounds of outdated clothes).
Finally, however, you realize that you now need to replace your tire with a donut. No worries, you’ve accomplished this before. You pop the hatch to your trunk, remove the jack, begin popping off bolt after bolt on your wheel. You pull off the shredded tire and go back to the trunk to remove the spare. Unfortunately, the spare has a slow leak, and it appears that you can’t even bounce the useless thing off the tarmac, not to mention use it to carry your old clothes, dog, and two-ton vehicle to their destinations. Why didn’t you check your tires?
Wait, when should you replace your tires? Well, you can take a quick scan your tires before you drive to determine regardless if they’re prepared to hit the road. Here are some signs of tire deterioration that you can search for:
BUBBLES & BUMPS
If you see bubbles or bumps on the surface of your tire, then you’re looking at pressure trying to escape, and you’re looking at a tire wall that is very near bursting. Weakened tire walls can show bubbles or bumps if the pressure within the tire is causing a malformation. Bubbles and bumps can also occur if the tire was poorly manufactured.
CHECK THE TREAD
To start with, and our most obvious thing to check, you should take a keen look at the tread on your tires. Your tires should have lots of texture and depth remaining in their tread. Worn, barren tires are likely to pop at any second. Ensure that you have at least 1/16 inch of tread on each of your tires. Any less, and you’re calling for a blow-out. And tread doesn’t just show you how well your tires are performing, your tire treads provide traction, even in poor road conditions. That means it’s doubly unsafe to drive on bald tires. Now, most modern tires have a cool feature that helps drivers to determine when their tires are on their last leg. Have a look at your tire to see if there are any tread wear indicators throughout the tire. Treadwear indicators are usually bars that cross between the gaps in your tread, and they exist to ensure that when your tire has lost enough tread to get flush with the indicator bar, you know that it’s time to replace your tires.
TRY TO FIND CRACKS
Next up, have a look for cracks anywhere on your tire, especially the sidewall of the tire. Your tire sidewalls can get worn, and if the rubber is weak, it can crack and cause a flat. Also, keep in mind that the sidewall is very easy to damage. If you accidentally roll over a curb and graze the sidewall, for example, you could cause a blowout, causing a leak, or you may weaken the tire to ensure that it could blow out at any second. So inspect the sidewalls of your tires, in addition to their tread.
MIND THE VIBRATION
While vibration isn’t usually directly pertaining to bad tires (it’s usually a sign that your struts or shocks are failing), tire vibration can wear your tires out faster. If you notice any vibration, bring your car into a shop to have your mechanic have a look. You may need to have your car aligned, or you may have to replace your struts or shocks.