scissors

When to Change Your Tires

Chapel Hill Tire is a full-service car care center, but — it’s all in the name! — we also specialize in tires. We want every driver on the road to travel safely, and that means having fully-inflated, balanced tires that grip the road, keep traction in the rain, and hug those turns at speed. You should regularly inspect your tires for signs of wear, and take your car in for a makeover as soon as you catch sight of a problem.

So what kinds of issues are you looking for?

1. Worn tread

The groove pattern on your tires is called your tread, and it’s a crucial part of their design. Substances of all kinds — gases, liquids, and solids — travel between your tires and the road. Never thought of it that way? Remember, your tires travel through or over three substances: air, water, and ice or snow. Each of them interrupts your tires’ traction.

Tread offsets that problem. Substances travel through the tread and are channeled away from your tires, allowing the body of the tire to keep contact with the road.

However, each substance travels differently. Liquids and solids require more time and more energy to move through your tread. This means that tires with worn tread are more likely to hydroplane in the rain, snow or ice. It’s a dangerous situation for both you and other drivers!

The legal minimum tread depth is 2/32”. You can measure this depth approximately with the “penny test;” insert a penny, head first, into the tread of your tires. Can you see the top of Honest Abe’s head? Then your tread is too worn.

However, some experts recommend that you replace your tires at approximately 4/32”, well before they reach legal minimum. Don’t just rely on the penny test; make an appointment to get your tires inspected if you even suspect they’re getting a little gray around the temples!

2. Cracks

Tires are made of rubber, and just like rubber bands, they lose elasticity over time. This transition to a more brittle state leads to cracks. If your tire is cracked, you’ll know it with a visual once-over. You could find a crack at any point on a tire’s surface, including the sidewalls: the parts of your tire that don’t touch the road. Don’t ignore them in your inspection.

Tire cracks are very dangerous. They expose the underlying structure of tires, making them vulnerable to erosion, which will eventually lead to a blowout. The last thing you want is to lose a tire while you’re heading down the highway at speed — you will quickly lose control of your vehicle, and the possibility of an accident is very high. Avoid this emergency situation by monitoring your tires as they age, and bringing your car in for a tire service at any sign of a problem.

3. Bulges or bubbles

Just like cracks, bulges or bubbles in your tires indicate an imminent emergency. They are caused by air escaping from a hole or tear in the inner liner of your tire, usually due to impact. This impact doesn’t have to be major — you may bump a curb or speed through a pothole and think little of it without noticing that it was, in fact, a big deal to your tires.

If the inner liner of your tire is damaged, fewer layers are protecting it from a blowout. Bring your car in for a repair or a new tire immediately if you notice an uneven tire surface.

Stay safe out there, and remember: Chapel Hill Tire is here to serve all your tire needs!

Back to Resources