How to Interpret Tire Wear

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Tire wear can tell you what's going on with your car's steering, suspension and tire pressure. Regular checks as well as a tire rotation can also help you prevent flat tires or a dangerous blowout. Here are a few easy steps to help you distinguish your car's tire wear.

Difficulty:
Easy

Instructions

Things You'll Need

  • Auto Emergency Kits
  • Tire Gauges
  • Spare Tires
  • Swiss Army Auto Tools
    • 1

      Check your tires outdoors where the lighting is good. Visually inspect all four tires.

    • 2

      Remember that under normal driving conditions, all four tires should wear evenly.

    • 3

      Check for even tread wear by using a tread-depth gauge, which costs less than $20. The depth of the tread (the grooves in the tire) should be even on all parts of the tire. Another way to check for tire wear (although not as accurate) is to stick a penny into the grooves, with Lincoln's head pointing into the tire. If you can see the top of his head, it's time to buy new tires.

    • 4

      Let some air out of your tires if there is wear down the middle and not on the sides. It means there's too much air in them.

    • 5

      Add air to tires with wear on both the inside and outside edges, which means there's not enough air in them.

    • 6

      Bring your car to an alignment shop for a front-end or four-wheel alignment if your tires are worn on one side or the other.

    • 7

      Run your hand lightly over the tread surface of each tire. If the treads feel bumpy or scalloped, even if the tread is still deep, you may need new shock absorbers or struts. (Some cars have shocks, some have struts and some have a combination'struts in front, shocks in back.)

    • 8

      Check the tire pressure in all four tires and the spare tire at least once a month. The recommended tire pressure is listed in your vehicle's manual, stamped on the side of the tire, and often printed on a sticker on the driver's-side doorjamb. When in doubt, 32 pounds per square inch (psi) is a good average until other sources can be consulted.

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