tire tread depth

How to Check Tire Tread

Defective tires can cause serious accidents, even if you aren’t driving at a high rate of speed. Many drivers slam on the brakes once their tire pops, and this is a dangerous move. Your car will also jerk violently toward the side of the vehicle where the damaged tire is. This can cause you to cross into oncoming traffic

To reduce the chances of suffering an accident due to tire issues, make sure to conduct regular tire inspections. If you don’t know how, keep reading because we’re going to go over the steps involved. 

Tire inspections can only help if you know what to look for. Here are five signs of defective tires that every driver should know.

Signs of a Defective Tire

The tread of your tires is what provides your vehicle with traction. Worn tread can lead to water, snow, and other slippery substances getting directly under your tires. This substantially decreases your vehicle’s ability to maintain contact with the road.

Tire Tread Penny Test

What is the tire tread penny test? You can use a penny to check tire tread depth of your tread. Insert the coin between the tread blocks of your tire. If Lincoln’s head fits between the tread patterns, that means you still have more than 1/16 of an inch of the tire tread remaining. However, if you can still see the top of Lincoln’s head, that means your tread has lost depth and it is time to buy new tires. 

Retreads can impact tire safety. Avoid installing retreaded tiresbecause they are more susceptible to future breakdowns or puncturing than a new tire.

Uneven Tread Wear and Tear

Beyond simply wearing down, the tread of your tires can deteriorate in an uneven fashion. This is why tire rotations are so important: they help even out the wear and tear that different tires sustain as you drive. 

It is common to see some tires look older or more worn than others. So as long as you are not due for a replacement based on the tire tread penny test outlined above, you can rotate your tires to even out their wear. You can reevaluate them later to decide whether or not it’s time to buy a new set of tires.

Sidewall Damage

Sidewall cracks usually indicate that a leak is developing between the tracks or layers of your tire. They can increase your chances of having a potentially deadly blowout. 

Another common place where tire damage is easily visible is in the sidewall of the tire. Look for cracks or cuts in the sidewall. These usually appear as grooves that are visible upon a first or second casual glance. 

Bubbles, Bulges, and Blisters

Tires are made up of multiple layers that are bound together. A weakening of one layer can result in all of the layers slowly separating from one another, as well as cracks and leaks between the layers themselves. 

When the outer layer of your tire weakens in this manner, bubbles and bulges will appear on the outermost surfaces of your tire. These are very dangerous as they can spontaneously erupt, leading to a tire blowout while driving.

Too Much Vibration

Some vibration is to be expected while driving, especially on bumpy roads. However, off-balance wheels create vibrations that worsen as you increase in speed, indicating misaligned or unbalanced wheels. 

These vibrations could also indicate that you are driving on a blistered tire. Beyond the risks of a sudden blowout, such vibrations can affect other parts of your vehicle, such as your shock absorbers.

A little prevention goes a long way, so watch out for these signs of defective tires to avoid hitting the road on tires that are unsafe to drive on. For further reading, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s tire safety page.

When You Experience a Blowout

The dreaded blowout is the most serious consequence of defective tires. When a tire blowout happens your car will forcefully lurch toward the side with the tire damage. When this happens it can be extremely difficult if not impossible to keep your car under control. 

According to Pintas & Mullins, when tire manufacturers fail in their duty to keep consumers safe, they may issue a tire recall too late. If you were injured in an accident that was caused by a defective tire, you have the right to file a claim so you can be compensated for your damages.

The Proper Tire Tread Depth

Many people choose to file lawsuits because an injury can quickly result in the injured party being overwhelmed with medical bills while they’re missing work. Often these cases will settle out of court without a trial. It’s worth pursuing your options if you have damages.

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