Are Your Tyres a Danger? 7 Warning Signs to Watch For
Every time you drive, your tyres sustain a little more wear and tear; it’s an inevitable fact that eventually your tyres will become old and worn down. Along with impacting performance, driving on bad tyres can result in you losing control of your vehicle and causing a serious accident. In fact, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 9 per cent of passenger vehicles on the highway are driven with at least one bald tyre.
To ensure that you don’t become the victim of an accident due to a bad tyre, it’s important to learn to recognise the warning signs that indicate your tyres are becoming a danger so that you can replace them before something goes wrong. Below are seven warning signs that could indicate your tyres are in bad shape and should be replaced:
Sign #1 - Tread Wear
The tread on your vehicle's tyres should never be less than 1/16th of an inch in depth (although, if you drive on wet surfaces regularly, it’s better for your tyres to always have at least twice that much tread).
You can certainly gauge the amount of tread left on your tyres with a special monitoring gauge, but you can also use a penny to measure the tread remaining on your tyres. Insert the penny with the head down into your tyre's tread. If the head remains visible, there isn’t enough tread left on your tyres. You should take your vehicle in to have the tyres replaced as soon as possible.
Sign #2 - Tread Wear Indicator Bar
Many tyres today feature a built-in convenience, known as tread wear indicator bars, that makes it easy to check the depth of your remaining tread. When the tyres are new, the bars are either invisible or can barely be seen at all. As the tread on the tyres begins to wear down, the indicator bars become visible.
If you currently have a set of tyres with these wear bars installed, you can check your tyre wear by looking for the flat rubber bars that run in a perpendicular fashion to the tread on the tyres. If you notice more than a couple of these bars, this is a good indication that the tread on your tyres is getting low and that it’s time to have your tyres check (and probably replaced).
Sign #3 - Cracks in the Sidewalls of Your Tyres
While checking the tread is always important, remember that other problems can occur with your tyres that have nothing to do with the tread. It’s also important that the sidewalls on your tyres be in good shape.
The best way to check the sidewall on your tyres is to do a visual inspection. Specifically, look for cuts or cracks in the sidewall; both of which could indicate a leak in your tyre. If the sidewalls on your tyres are not in good shape, you could be at an increased risk for a blowout. When it comes to this type of damage, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and have your tyres checked if you think the sidewalls may be worn or damaged.
Sign #4 - Blisters and Bulges
Over time and with regular usage, the outer surface of your tyre can begin to weaken. When that happens, you may notice blisters or bulges in the rubber. These weak spots can result in sudden blowouts, putting you at risk for a serious accident while driving. If you notice blisters or bulges in your tyres, have them checked immediately.
Sign #5 - Vibration While Driving
From time to time, it’s natural to experience vibration while you’re driving. Vibration can occur for a number of different reasons, including driving on poorly paved roads or issues with your vehicle’s suspension.
That said, if you’ve been driving your vehicle for a while, you’re likely familiar with how much your vehicle typically vibrates. If you notice that your vehicle has begun to vibrate more than usual, this could indicate that there’s a problem with your tyres. Vibration from your tyres could be due to tyres that are unbalanced or misaligned. There could also be an internal problem with your tyres that is causing the vibration.
If left unattended, you could develop a serious problem in the near future. Bring your vehicle in to have the tyres checked.
Sign #6 - Noisy Tyres
Along with excessive vibration, you may notice that your tyres have begun making extra noise if they’re in bad shape. If you notice a continual humming sound when you change speed, this could indicate that your tyres have chopped tread; typically the result of a failing suspension or lack of rotation.
Similarly, if you notice a thumping sound while driving, this could indicate the presence of a flat spot within one of your tyres. Flat spots are often the result of locking up the brakes or a defect in the tyre itself. Neither of these issues can be repaired, and defective tyres will need to be replaced as soon as possible.
Sign #7 - Wobbling or Lack of Traction
Have you noticed that your vehicle seems to wobble while you’re driving? This typically occurs at low speeds, and it will seem as if the vehicle is bouncing up and down. You might even notice that the steering wheel seems to move outside of your control.
If you notice any of these problems, it’s a sign that at least one of your tyres is bad. Such problems are commonly caused by a severe separation of the internal belts in the tyre. When the belts come separated, it usually results in a large bubble in the tread. This can be serious, and your tyres should be replaced as soon as possible.
In addition, if you notice a lack of traction when driving on wet surfaces, this could indicate a lack of grooves in your tyres. This places you at an increased risk for hydroplaning, which could cause a serious accident. The best solution is to have all the tyres on your vehicle replaced as quickly as possible.
The tyres on your vehicle are a vital component to keeping you safe while driving. Checking your tyres regularly and replacing them when needed will ensure they’re kept in the great shape needed to keep you safe.
Image: Wikipedia Commons