There's something your driver's ed course might not have taught you. Or it did teach you, and you've forgotten about it. Either way, it's time to tackle it now. When should you replace your tires? Like it or not, your tires will get too worn to safely drive with. Knowing when is the right time to change them could save your life in a crash.
Do Your Tires Pass the Penny Test?
The penny test is the easiest way to tell if you need new tires. Grab a quarter and turn it so that Lincoln's head is upside down and facing you. Then, slide it between the ridges on the tires.
Is part of Lincoln's head covered by the tires? If so, that's good news. It means your tires have more than 2/32 of an inch of tread left. They're perfectly safe to drive with.
If you can see the top of the president's head, it's time to change your tires. They're too worn out.
What About the Age Test?
But the penny test may not tell the full story. Old tires, even if they look brand new, aren't always safe to drive with. Just like food, tires have an expiration date.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends tires be changed after 10 years. Yes, even if they've never been used before. With time, tires become less reliable, so they must be replaced.
Each manufacturer announces the longevity of their tires. If you're unsure about yours, look up the user manual online to see if it's time to get new tires.
Is Changing Your Tires Really Necessary?
At this point, you may be wondering: "I've driven with slightly worn-out tires before and nothing happened! Do I really have to spend money on new ones?" The answer is clear: yes, yes you do.
Every year, around 600 people die in tire-related car crashes. Usually, it's due to a combination of bad weather and bad tires.
Picture this: you're driving down a highway under heavy rain. You notice something on the road (an animal, pothole, or car part) and hit the breaks. If your tires are worn out, they don't offer as much traction with the road. Thus, your car is sent into fast, dangerous spins that could prove deadly.
That's just one of the many reasons why old tires are bad news. Car maintenance is important and always worth the investment.
When to Shop for Tires
If you've noticed signs of wear, the best time to change tires is now. There's no use in waiting a few days or weeks for an upcoming sale. Just do it.
However, if you monitor your tires regularly, you might get rewarded for your due diligence. Generally speaking, tires go on sale in mid-spring and mid-fall. Plus, on holiday weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day, retailers frequently have discounts on tires. You could snatch one of those deals and store your tires in the garage until you need to replace them.
There's More to Driving Safely
There's no doubt that having well-maintained tires keeps you safe. Taking care of your vehicle makes you a responsible driver. But there's something else you can also do to be an amazing driver if you want to go the extra mile (and why wouldn't you?).
Taking defensive driving courses will teach you all you need to know about driving safely. You'll learn how to face tough weather conditions, deal with aggressive drivers, and more. Plus, you could even get an auto insurance discount for completing the class online!