When Do I Need New Tires?

Tire tread and sidewall condition—as well as age—will often determine the remaining life in your tires. Here are some of the ways to look for signs of tired tires:

A Penny or a Quarter?

The well-known penny test: put a penny in the tire tread with Lincoln's head upside down. If you can see the top of his head, the tread has worn below 1/16 of an inch and you need new tires.

Actually, in some states, 1/16 is more a test of legal tread depth, rather than safety. The quarter test, which measures 2/16 of an inch to Washington's head, is probably a better indicator of safety, especially on slushy and snowy roads.

Tread Wear Bars

Newer tires have a built-in tread wear indicator. As the tread wears down, you can see bars across the grooves in the tire.

Unwanted Lodgers

Ever see a nail in your tire before it went flat? It's good to get in the habit of running your eye over your tires, especially if you have been driving near debris.

Sidewalls Matter Too

The condition of your sidewalls should not be overlooked. Cracks, grooves and bulges can develop into leaks and blowouts.

Use your Ears

Vibration and a change in how your car sounds on the road can signal alignment problems and uneven wear on tires.

Admit your Age

Age and severe temperatures do affect tire materials. So even if your tires haven't seen that many miles, they will lose their strength and reliability after six years.

When looking at tire condition, don't forget to look at all four tires. Even if only one tire is damaged, it is best to replace tires in pairs or all four at a time. Still have questions? Visit the nearest Levin Tire location for an assessment of your tires.