Are Your Tires Good Enough for Winter Weather?

Whether you can’t wait for the first blanket of snow or turn the cold shoulder in favor of the warm indoors, we all have to eventually venture into the winter wonderland by getting behind the wheel to travel to our family holiday parties, our weekend getaways, or simply for the daily commute to and from work. We want a reliable drive that we can count on, and that starts with the treads of our vehicles’ tires. Your tires can tell you a lot, but few know the methods of reading how worn their tread is. Know the signs of wear and tear before the first snow!

How deep should your treads be?

In the United States, the depth of a tire is measured in 32nds of an inch, with a 9/32 to 11/32 of an inch being the depth for most new all-season tires and 2/32 of an inch being the recommended minimum before you should replace your tires. Our service consultant at Marburger Chrysler (Shelby, NC) told us that the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards require that tires are built with 2/32-inch depth indicators within the tread grooves so you can visually inspect the status of your tires. These indicators are known as wear bars, and six or more are standard on every tire. They resemble flat rubber bars slightly raised from the rest of the groove’s depth running horizontal with the tire’s width, perpendicular to the tire’s actual tread.

How do I know how worn my tires are?

While the tire is on your car, or if you can’t see the wear bar, the most famous method is doing a coin test. Using an American penny or quarter, face the head of the coin towards you with the president’s head oriented towards the center of the tire. If the groove covers the hair of the visage, your tires are still good!  If the president sits mostly or fully exposed over the tire’s rubber, then your tires’ treads are too shallow and you should get new tires soon. 

What if my tires aren’t evenly worn?

Tires do not always wear evenly. Some wear more to one side, some wear just in the middle. The most common cause for uneven wear is your tires’ inflation amounts.  Over inflated tires ride more on the center of their treads than on the outside, while under inflated tires do the opposite.  You should check your air pressure amounts and consult your owner’s manual to ensure you’re filling your tires properly. Out-of-spec tire alignments can also cause uneven wear. This means the angle of the wheels to each other and to the road are not parallel. If you’re fighting your steering wheel to stay straight on the road, then your tires could be misaligned and causing uneven wear.

Get ready for winter and inspect those tires now!  It’s advised you check your air pressure and treads monthly so you have the best picture of how your vehicle is going to perform, plus it maintains consistent performance and maximizes efficiency when you take care of your tires!  For swift stops even on slick roads, get your tires checked, rotated, and changed at your local dealership.

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