Are Your Tires Just Plain Tired? 3 Ways To Find Out

Nothing lasts forever, especially when it comes to your tires. The older your tires get, the greater your risk of a sudden and possibly catastrophic failure becomes. To keep this from happening, it's important to know how old your tires are and when you should have them replaced.

Check for Wear

Heavy tread and sidewall wear is one indicator of a tire past its prime. Most brand-new tires come with tread depths ranging from 9/32-inch to 11/32-inch. Once your tire treads reach a minimum depth of 2/32-inch, you'll need to have them replaced as soon as possible.

The penny test is one way you can measure your tires' tread depth. Simply place a penny into the tread groove, making sure Lincoln's head is positioned upside down. If you can make out the top of Lincoln's head, then you'll need to replace that tire.

Some tires also come with tread wear indicators molded into the tire. These indicators appear as horizontal bars embedded within the tread grooves. Once the tread wears down to a depth of 2/32-inch, the indicator bars will become flush with the tread ribs, indicating that a tire replacement is due.

Check for Dry Rot

Dry rot is another indicator of a tire that needs replacing. As your tires age, the natural oils contained within the rubber can dry out over time, creating a brittle surface that's crisscrossed with cracks and fractures. These cracks can eventually weaken the tire and make it more prone to slow leaks or even a catastrophic loss of air pressure.

Constant exposure to sunlight (which contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation) and lack of use are common causes of dry rot. In most cases,  

Check the Date

Just because your tires haven't fallen apart or had their treads worn as smooth as a billiard ball doesn't mean they won't need replacement at some point. Although there aren't any specific guidelines on tire aging, most manufacturers recommend replacing tires after 6 to 10 years of use, regardless of tread condition.

Nearly every tire has a DOT Tire Identification Number (TIN) located on the sidewall. At the end of the TIN is a 4-digit code displaying the week and year the tire was made. If the last 4 digits read "2613," that means the tire was made during the 26th week of 2013. You can use this information to determine whether or not it's time to replace your tires.

For more information or assistance, contact companies like Lee Tire.