Tire Safety Tips

Tire safety tips and advice are often found in your vehicle owner’s manual. If an owner’s manual isn't available for reference, ask an auto technician about the recommended air pressure for your tires and check regularly to ensure that they are inflated to the suggested PSI. RightTurn recommends consulting technicians at your local auto dealership. Dealerships are the only places that employ automaker-certified technicians.

Checking Tire Pressure

To check the tire pressure on your car, you'll need a tire gauge. These are simple instruments that can be kept in a vehicle storage compartment. It's best to test the tires when they are cold, or a few hours after driving. As they warm up, air pressure may fluctuate slightly depending on road surface and the type of driving done on the tires.

To use a tire gauge, remove the valve cap and place the gauge firmly on the valve, depressing the valve stem. This will give you an immediate reading. Replace the valve cap and repeat the process on the remaining tires.


Checking Tread depth

Tire tread can be quickly checked with a couple of coins. A penny or a quarter will do the trick. Honest Abe and George Washington will aid in this simple trick that will let you know if you have enough tread to drive safely. Take a penny, flip it upside down and place it into a tread void (groove). If the height of the tread reaches Lincoln's head on the penny, you've got at least 2/32 of an inch which should pass inspection in every state, but is very close to needing replacement. The exact same test can be done with a quarter to indicate 4/32 of an inch.

When you begin to see the depth decline toward 2/32 and 1/32, it's time to replace tires so that you'll be safe on the roadways. In environments with heavy rain or inclement weather, it is best to drive on tires that possess at least 4/32 of an inch of tread so any tread void or sipe (groove) will allow for plenty of tread to remain in contact with the wet road surface.


Recognizing Uneven Tire and Tread Wear

Regular tire rotations will help you avoid problems with wheel alignment or balance that adversely affect tire wear. Warped or imbalanced tires can become hazardous on the road, leading to a blowout or a flat that can subsequently result in an accident.

In addition to regular rotations, it's smart to routinely inspect tires if it feels like the quality of your ride has changed or it fails to respond to steering like normal. Uneven tread wear becomes rather obvious, and can be seen with a simple visual inspection. This can also be the result of driving on underinflated or overinflated tires.

Any tires with, cracks, tears, exposed steel, or belt materials in the sidewall or within a tread pattern should be replaced immediately.

Tire safety is a necessity for safe driving, but it will also ensure that your vehicle is operating at its most efficient. This means less money spent on tire maintenance and less money spent at the gas pump.

Tire care and maintenance all too often fall by the wayside a few months after a vehicle has been purchased or new tires have been installed. Tire care should be viewed as essential. It's absolutely necessary if you want your vehicle to be safe and more importantly if you want your passengers to be safe. In addition to safety, quality tire care will ensure the longevity and performance of tires, which will minimize the expenses of having to replace them prematurely. Tire care will also enhance the efficiency of a vehicle, helping it maximize fuel usage for the best possible gas mileage. Consider these simple tire care tips.


Maintaining Proper Air Pressure in Tires

Many drivers are completely unaware of the ideal pressure for their tires. In order for a tire to function to the best of its ability, providing a safe and efficient ride as well as optimal performance, it needs to be within a few pounds per square inch of the recommended air pressure listed in the vehicle owner's manual or suggested by a tire technician. Overinflated or underinflated tires result in uneven tread wear, poor handling, and even tire damage that can result in a blowout.

Maintaining proper air pressure in all four tires is easy with a tire gauge, which can be purchased at any auto parts store for a few dollars. To use it, simply remove the tire's valve cap and place the gauge on the valve stem to get an instant read. If nothing happens make sure you are pressing hard enough to activate the valve stem. It may take a couple tries to find an accurate reading and then pressure can be added or released according to the suggested pressure.

Tire Rotation

Front tires and rear tires wear differently. This is the result of the way they act differently in steering and powering the vehicle. In order to help your tires wear evenly and last as long as possible, recommends that you have the tires rotated every 5,000-6,000 miles. A good rule of thumb is to get them rotated with every other oil change. This will greatly prolong the life of the tire, and allow for better tire performance and even tread wear.


Tire Alignment

Tire alignment is something that often goes unmentioned in conversations about tire care. Despite this, it's crucial for wheels and tires to be properly aligned or an uneven tread wear pattern will develop. Uneven tread wear is the fastest way to ruin or damage a tire long before its expected tread life. Check with your local auto dealership to see if you need an alignment.


Tire Balance

Wheel and tire balance is another key aspect in preserving tires and vehicle safety. When wheels are out of balance, the contact patch—the area of the tire that touches the road—may not roll across the ground properly or evenly. This can result in a rough ride, and it will almost certainly result in warped or damaged tires. And once a tire experiences this kind of damage, it can't be repaired.


External Tire Care

Finally, a simple tip for taking care of tires. By using products such as tire shine or gloss, you can also protect the tires from harmful effects caused by UV damage. The sun is capable of rapidly oxidizing the rubber materials in tires when they lack proper protection. These cleaning products serve as that protection. Using them also offers an excellent chance to visually inspect the tires for damage or other issues that may become problematic if not addressed by a tire technician.

Overall, tire care is something rather simple. It only takes a few minutes of routine maintenance on a monthly basis.


Tire Repair

If you're having minor issues with your tires, tire repair may be the best and least expensive solution. However, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), the national trade association for tire manufacturers, nearly 88% of all tire repairs are done improperly. Also, repairs are often made when the tire really should be replaced. Any time a tire is damaged or leaking, it's absolutely necessary to have it examined by an auto technician. They work closely with tire manufacturers and have the expertise to determine whether a tire should be repaired or replaced.


What Is Tire Repair?

Tire repair is any variety of tire solutions that salvage a tire after it becomes damaged or becomes flat. It's quite common for people to misdiagnose slow tire leaks as a problem with the tire, when it may actually be a much simpler issue that doesn't require full replacement, such as a problem with the valve stem. Tire repair is simple in such instances and can be dealt quickly with by any qualified tire technician.

More severe tire damage, such as punctures, will require the attention of a tire technician as well. These professionals are able to take tires that are minimally damaged, remove them from a wheel or rim and repair them to quality working order.

Tire repair becomes a problem when people choose it as a solution to all tire problems. When tires become unevenly worn or lack tread, they're no longer repairable. Owners of larger, heavy duty tires, might be able to take their tires to a specialist in order to have a process done known as regrooving, or retreading. This isn't really an option for tires that are used on passenger vehicles and should be avoided at the risk of compromised safety on the road.


Tire Repair vs. New Tires

Tire repair is a smart solution for some tire issues. However, when tires become damaged, it's best to rely on the advice of a certified auto technician to find the best and safest solution. Additionally, it helps to know and understand the signs that tires need to be replaced, as opposed to repaired. A good resource to help you identify whether a tire should be repaired or replaced is the RMA.

Replacing tires is something that will take place in the life of your vehicle if you drive it long enough. No tire is made to last forever, and regardless of its toughness, it won't be immune to roadway hazards or poor tire care. There are some obvious signs and symptoms that indicate the need to have your tires replaced, beginning with tread wear.

As tires experience normal wear and eventually become bald—whether in one spot or across the whole surface of the tire—it's time for them to be replaced. If tires have been properly maintained through routine rotations, balancing, and alignment, all four tires should wear out at the roughly the same rate.

Another reason to invest in new tires, as opposed to attempting tire repair, is uneven wear on a tire or tires. Uneven wear is most commonly associated with tires that are overinflated, under-inflated or on wheels that are poorly aligned. This problem is usually easily detected if tires are rotated properly every 5,000–6,000 miles. Uneven wear may result in the need for two new tires, as opposed to four, so long as there is no uneven wear or damage noticeable on the other tires.

If you're tires seem like they're not performing the way they should be, if they're leaking air, or if you have a flat, you need to have your tires checked out. If the circumstances are right, you may be able to get your tires repaired and avoid having to purchase a new set. Head to your local auto dealership to consult an automaker-certified technician about your tires.


The Dangers of Bald Tires

We all wish tires would last forever, but they don’t. So you need to be prepared to determine if your tires are bald and need to be changed. It's illegal to drive on bald tires, and more importantly, it's unsafe. Here are some tire tips from to keep you informed, legal, and safe.


What Is Tread Depth?

Tread depth is the height of the tread from the bottom of the grooves in between the treads. As you drive on your tires, the tread wears down and the tread depth gets smaller. When the tread depth gets too small, your tires may no longer be legal and stop being safe.

Your tread should wear down evenly across the width of your tires and around the circumference of your tires. If the tread wear is uneven, it may be a sign that something isn’t right with your tires or suspension system. Uneven wear also indicates that you should check your tires’ air pressure, or it might be time to get your tires rotated or your wheels aligned.

You may be asking, “How can I measure my tread depth?” and “How do I know if my tires are bald?” has the answers.


Measuring Tread Depth

There are many different ways to measure tread depth and determine if your tires are bald. We outline the most common ways below. You can always contact your local dealership to have an expert tire inspection performed if you're worried about doing it yourself. The most accurate way to measure a tire's tread depth is to use a tread depth gauge.

Instructions for Using a Tread Depth Gauge:

  1. Zero the gauge by pushing the gauge’s probe down as far as possible onto a flat surface.
  2. Place the flat end of the gauge (the side where the probe comes out) on treads on each side of a circumferential groove (the wide grooves that run all the way around the tire’s circumference).
  3. Push down on the measuring stick, extending the probe down into the groove as far as possible.
  4. Carefully remove the gauge without bumping the probe or the measuring stick.
  5. The tread depth is read where the top of the gauge’s barrel meets the measuring stick. Make sure you are reading the correct units. Most tread depth gauges provide standard and metric measurements.
  6. Repeat this process at 15 inch intervals around the tire and in all of the circumferential grooves.
  7. If the tread depth is 2/32”, your tires are bald. Depths of 2/32” and smaller are illegal in most U.S. states. No matter where you drive, tires that are bald are unsafe.

Here are two easy and effective methods for estimating your tread depth. These simple tests can be conducted at home without any specialized equipment. All you need is some pocket change.

The Penny Test:
Place a penny in your tires’ circumferential grooves with the top of Lincoln’s head pointing toward the center of the tire. If you can see any space above the top of the head, it’s time to replace your tires.

The Quarter Test:
Place a quarter in your tires’ circumferential grooves with the top of Washington’s head facing the tire. If you can see any space above the top of the head, less than half your tread remains.

Many service professionals recommend replacing your tires at this time if you drive in inclement weather or are planning a long road trip.


If your Tires Are Bald

If your tires are bald, it’s time to change them. Bald tires decrease traction and braking ability, especially in wet and snowy conditions. But don’t worry. will help every step of the way from choosing the right tires for your vehicle to getting them installed by a local, automaker-certified technician.

If you have any questions or want to set up a tire inspection, contact or your local dealership.


Brief Facts About Tires

It's no secret that buying tires would be much easier with a solid understanding of tires. That's probably why you're on a page called "Tire Facts." Information that will help with your purchase includes how they're manufactured, which are right for specific vehicles, and how to understand the complex tire codes that are listed on the side of the tire. Simple tire facts will also help you to maintain your tires once they are on a vehicle, allowing for optimal wear, performance, and vehicle safety. The following facts will improve your understanding of tires and guide your purchasing decision.


Tire Components

Tires are made of several different components, including the tread, sidewall, and tire plies, to name a few. The precise combination of variations of these components allows for the construction of tires that are particularly good in certain conditions, certain kinds of driving, and certain kinds of vehicles.


Tire Tread

Each tire has a tread pattern, which is the part of the tire that comes into contact with the driving surface as the tire rolls. The area that is actually touching the road at any given moment is known as the contact patch. Treads are made up of tread blocks, which can vary in size, shape, look, and function. Additionally, the tread pattern is made up of the area known as the tread void, which consists of the grooves between the tread blocks and allow the tread blocks to remain flexible. Tread grooves also remove water out from under the tire as it rolls. Some tread patterns possess rain grooves, which are often deeper than the tread void and are designed to enhance water evacuation from between the contact patch and road surface.

Tires contain what is known as a wear bar. The wear bar serves as a built-in warning system to alert you when the tire needs to be replaced. This small raised feature within the tread void or groove is easy to see upon visual inspection.


Tire Sidewall

The sidewall is the side of the tire that's easily seen when a tire is mounted on a vehicle. It has a great deal of information on it including the manufacturer's name, the size of the tire, the maximum inflation, etc.


Tire Bead

The tire bead is the part of the tire that holds it securely onto the rim. It is constructed of a durable rubber compound that's reinforced with a small steel cable. Keeping your tire properly inflated is crucial for ensuring that the tire bead keeps a strong seal between the tire and the rim.


Tire Shoulder

The tire shoulder is the area of the tire where the sidewall and the tread meet.


Tire Ply

Layers of various materials, including fabrics, plastics, metals, and rubber are laid inside the tire to help it maintain its shape throughout the wear and tear it experiences with pressure from the air inside and the road outside. Each layer is known as a tire ply.


Tire Specs

Most tire specifications can be found on the sidewall of the tire. They are included in the series of letters and numbers sometimes referred to as the tire code. The specifications included in the tire code are the tire size, whether or not the tire has radial construction, the type of vehicle the tire was manufactured for, and may also include the speed rating. You'll also find inflation information on the sidewall of the tire, including maximum PSI that a tire is capable of. Tire specifications also include the load rating, which is important for vehicles that will be used for hauling or towing. The optimal inflation level and load rating can be found in your vehicle owner's manual.


Tire Sizes

When many people begin shopping for tires, they have a certain look in mind for the type of tires they'd like to see on their vehicle or a specific tire that they've had good experience with. While you may want a certain look or a certain tire, you may not find one that fits your vehicle. It's absolutely necessary to use the manufacturer-recommended tire size in order for your vehicle to perform safely. In fact, automaker-certified technicians like those employed by dealership won't install any tires on your vehicle that aren't the perfect size. And these technicians know your vehicle best.

As mentioned before, the size of the tire is listed in the tire code. The code can be read as follows: the first three digits are the width of the tire in milimeters. This measurement is followed by a slash and then a two digit number. That two digit number is the height of the sidewall as a percentage of the tire's width. For example, if the tire code starts like this: 200/55, then the height of the sidewall is 55% of 200, or 110 milimeters. If an "R" appears after the sidewall height, that means the tire has radial construction. The next two digits are the diameter of the rim the tire fits on. The next number is the code that indicates the maximum load capacity of thre tire. Finally, if there is a letter at the end of the code, it is the tire's speed rating. Here is an example of a tire code:

200/55R16 88V


New Tires for Your Vehicle

When you use your car on a daily basis, good tires are absolutely essential for the highest level of safety possible. To many, tires are just something that's necessary to pass an automotive inspection and get from point A to point B. To others, tires are key to optimal vehicle performance as well as making their vehicles look good. When it comes to vehicle performance, a set of four new tires can quickly shift a driver’s perspective from seeing tires as unimportant. New tires are a quick reminder of what the automotive design team had in mind when they manufactured your vehicle. The right tires can make a vehicle perform as intended.


Investing in New Tires

Investing in new tires can change nearly everything about your vehicle. New tires can enhance its performance, ride, comfort, looks, and especially vehicle safety. Considering all of the options available in terms of tire size, type, and desired performance, there is a huge number of tires available on the market today from a large number of manufacturers.


When Are New Tires Necessary?

There is no absolute way to determine the life of a tire. Many tires come with limited warranty coverage up to a certain mileage, but tire wear will depend greatly on driving habits, the function of the vehicle, maintenance, and the road surfaces on which they roll. A quality set of tires should last several years if they're properly maintained.

Realizing when you need new tires may be a little tricky for some. That's why so many consumers ask so many different questions about tire quality, including tread depth, tire wear, tire damage, and mismatching tires on an everyday vehicle. They're curious to know if they absolutely need to replace their tires. There's a simple answer to all of these kinds of questions: a new set of quality tires will alleviate the stress of worrying about the safety and performance of the tires you have right now. However, if you want a better, more personalized answer, consult your local auto dealership. Auto technicians at dealerships are continually working with tire manufacturers to understand their tire technology, and because they're automaker-certified for work on your make and model, they have the expertise to advise you as to whether or not new tires are necessary.


New Tires Needed Based on Tread

As you use your tires, the tread wears down. When the tread depth reaches 2/32", it's highly recommended that you change your tires. Driving on tires with smaller tread is definitely unsafe, and may even be illegal in your city or state.To determine the depth of the tread on your tires there are few different tests. You can perform a quick and accurate test with a tread depth gauge. However, if you don't have a tread depth gauge, use the following coin tests to estimate the amount of tread left on your tires.


The Penny Test

Place a penny between the tread grooves with the top of Lincoln’s head nearest to the tire. If you can see any space above the top of the head, it’s time to replace your tires. Take your vehicle to the dealership for a complete safety inspection.


The Quarter Test

Place a quarter between the tread grooves with the top of Washington’s head nearest to the tire. If you can see any space above the top of the head, less than half your tread remains. Some service professionals recommend replacing your tires at this time, particularly if you plan on driving in inclement weather or on a long road trip.


New Tires Needed Based on Wear

A common occurrence in many cars is uneven tire wear. Uneven tread wear can result from a number of issues with a vehicle, including wheels out of alignment or balance, or it could be caused by driving on the tires when they're overinflated or underinflated. Once tires become worn unevenly, there's no way to fix them. The only solution is buying new tires. Head to your local auto dealership for an inspection if you notice uneven tread wear on your tires.


The Benefits of New Tires

As briefly mentioned, the biggest advantage of buying new tires in the added safety you'll get from them. They can help provide optimal traction, handling, and performance capability on a variety of paved and unpaved surfaces as well as in inclement weather such as rain or snow. New tires can also decrease braking time and stopping distance. In addition to vehicle safety, new tires can also offer optimal performance tuned to a specific vehicle because tire manufacturers often work directly with automakers to develop tires for that make and model. Consult your local tire dealer when it’s time to replace your tires.


The Dangers of Used Tires

When you have to deal with high gas prices, insurance premiums, maintenance, parking fees, and everything else, keeping your vehicle on the road can be expensive. In today’s economy, it’s always nice to find a way to save a few bucks. This can be especially true when it comes to your vehicle. However, one thing you shouldn’t skimp on is replacement tires. Many drivers are tempted to outfit their car or truck with used tires in order to save a little money. does not recommend buying used tires. Driving on used tires can lead to expensive repairs or dangerous accidents.


Used Tire Sales

The main reason that used tires are a bad idea is that they're dangerous. In spite of the fact that secondhand tires may look okay, they could be five or more years old. Unlike fine wine, tires don’t improve with age. Instead, they become worn and susceptible to malfunction or puncture. You usually can’t tell how much a tire has aged just by looking at it. While a tire might look fine on the outside, the rubber compounds inside may oxidize, causing the tire to deteriorate from the inside out.In some cases, used-tire dealers paint their products black in order to make them look new.

Unlike with the sale of new tires, there's little quality control in the used-tire industry. Used tires may come from scrap heaps or salvage yards. They may not even get a safety inspection before they're sold again. It’s also important to note that used tires are not subject to federal standards. This means that having such tires installed on your vehicle goes against RMA- and automobile-manufacturer-approved practices for the repair and replacement of tires. These standards were established so that people can use public roads safely.


The Advantages of New Tires

Simply put, you should only outfit your vehicle with new tires. also recommends that you have them installed by automaker-certified service professionals such as those you would find at a dealership. By going to the dealership, you get new, high-quality, original-equipment replacement tires installed by qualified technicians. Service professionals at your local dealership are experts on your vehicle’s make and model. They know how to correctly install the right set of tires for you.

So, while it may be tempting to try and save money by equipping your vehicle with a set of used tires, consider the risks. Driving on unsafe tires can lead to a blowout that could cause a serious accident. Don’t take chances when it comes to your vehicle or, more importantly, your own safety. Only purchase new tires and get them installed by a factory-certified professional. It’s also a good idea to have your tires regularly inspected by a qualified professional at a dealership in order to make sure the tires on your vehicle are safe and road ready.