How to tell if your car needs new tires

There’s a lot riding on your tires – the safety of yourself, your family and other people on the road. It’s imperative that you replace them promptly when they become overly worn.

If you’re not sure how to tell when your car needs new tires, call upon the help of a Los Angeles auto repair professional. In 2010, Angie’s List members searched the List more than 4,500 times for auto services. Sign in to read member reviews of recent services and to find a Los Angeles auto repair shop near you.

If you suspect your tires might be worn, here are some tips to help you know when your tires need to be checked and replaced.

Tread depth
Grab a penny and get ready to stick it in your tire tread. Put the penny in upside down, so you are looking at Honest Abe and the top of his head is inside the tire. If you can see the top of his head, the tire depth is becoming dangerously low.

Newer tires have a feature that eliminates the need to turn to Abe. As the tread wears, a series of flat rubber bars that run perpendicular to the tread will begin to appear. When you can see these bars it’s time for new tires.

The sidewall
When you start seeing cracks in the sidewall of the tire, you may have dry rot in the tires. Plan on replacing them sooner rather than later at your local auto repair shop.

Bulges or blister
Most tires have belts inside that wrap around the sidewalls and tread. When these belts break, the sidewall can bulge outward. This weak spot can burst at any time, leaving you with a dangerous blowout. If you notice any bulging or blistering in your tire the time to replace it has already passed and you need a new tire now.

Excessive vibration
When you’re driving, it’s normal to feel some vibration in the car. The road surface is often the culprit. But if the vibration remains, even after the road surface changes, then it is probably time for new tires. Even if the tires seem to be good, you should still get in with an auto repair shop right away to be sure it’s not something more serious.

Air pressure
Watch the air pressure in your tires. It should be checked regularly but it should remain stable. Most cars will have a sticker adhered to the driver’s side door panel that says how many pounds of air should be in each tire. If you are having to replace air on a regular basis, you should get the tire checked by a professional.

Watch them for signs of problems so you can fix them immediately. To prevent accelerated wear and tear on new tires, always replace them in pairs.

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