15 Tire Safety and Buying Tips


Everyone knows the feeling.  You’re driving down the highway, avoiding the crazy drivers speeding by (or acting as one), when your check engine light turns on.  A few days later you muster together the time and energy to drop the car off at the Auto Shop.  Lucky for you, it’s nothing major.  That’s until your phone rings minutes later with the Auto Shop representative telling you one of the worst parts of owning and maintaining a car, “You need new tires.”

How are you even supposed to know when to change tires? Isn’t there some trick with a penny? How long do they last and which set should you buy?

There’s rarely a time where a $400+ decision is ever fun or easy, especially involving tires.  Luckily 4th Strand compiled the following lists to help your next decision, or hopefully help prevent an accident caused by old/faulty tires.

5 Ways to Know it’s Time

  1. Tread Depth: Check the tread depth by inserting a penny upside down. If Abe’s head is completely visible, it’s time.  U.S. law says tire treads must be 2/32” thick (about the penny distance).  However, drivers in cold/wet climates maywant to get tires sooner (4/32”) to prevent slippage and hydroplaning.
  2. Tread Wear Indicators: Most tires now have “tread bars” on them that appear when the tire is worn down. Visible tread bars = time for new tires.
  3. Cracks in the Sidewall: Cracks in the sidewall are severe signs of degradation and wear. Failure to get new ones may lead to flat tires and blowouts.
  4. Bulges/Wear: Bulges or severe wear blisters can be early signs of a tire blowout.
  5. Vibration: Most drivers know how their car regularly handles.  If car vibration increases for no evident reason, it’s likely the tires are worn out.

5 Things to Consider in New Tires

  1. Type of Tire: Make sure you buy the correct size tire for the type of car you drive.
  2. What’s Important to You?: Do you prefer better gas mileage, stability, or performance? There are different tire types depending on how you drive.
  3. Where do you live?: Purchase the correct tire for your atmosphere/driving area.  This includes both the type of weather (winter/all-season/summer) and location (urban/rural)
  4. Tread Pattern: Tires have different tread patterns that assist driving in certain conditions.
  5. User Manual: If all else fails, your car user manual will have recommendations for the type of tire to use.  If you can’t decide on the type of tire you want, stick with the manufacturer’s recommended tire.

5 Tips to Extend Your Tire Life

  1. Rotate Tires: Every 3,000-5,000 miles, rotate your tires.  Keeping tire wear even will ensure the durability of ALL your tires.
  2. Align Tires: The misalignment of tires can cause much more rapid tire wear, as well decreasing gas mileage and smoothness.  Realigning the tires when you perform a tire rotation doesn’t take too much longer or cost much more.
  3. Check Air Levels: Tires naturally lose 1 to 2 PSI per month and improper inflation can cause many issues.  Tires that are under-inflated by only 6PSI can decrease tread life by up to 25% and decrease gas mileage by up to 5%.  Additionally, over inflation can cause tire blowouts.
  4. Properly Break-In Tires: Most tires have break-in periods of around 500 miles.  Like any break-in period, the proper ease can ensure your tires work appropriately.
  5. Purchase the Correct Tires: The biggest tip to extend the life of your tires is to purchase the correct ones.  Tires that are incorrect for your vehicle, your driving style, or your location will wear down significantly faster than the proper set.


Do you have questions specific to your tire needs?  Do you have tips/tricks that you currently use on your own tires?

Let us know!

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2 Responses to 15 Tire Safety and Buying Tips

  1. Mike says:

    Also if you vehicle is not stable when you drop speed or when you deaccelarate then you should replace your tires. For increasing your car tire life you should take proper care of alignment and your pressure. Try not to drive you car in heavy speed, drive smoothly and firmly as high speed need heavy brakes to slow down or stop car which kills you car tire. Thanks for sharing these great tips.

  2. John says:

    Really great information about tires.Very much helpful.

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