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North Hills Automotive editorial image: Early Retirement Next Exit sign.

Photo courtesy of 
Kellie Kaminski Photography

Knowing the Right Time for New Tires

Plan For Your Future Safety

After 30 years of Auto Service and Repair on over 1000 vehicles per month, we at North Hills Automotive have seen it all! Especially when it comes to tires that have long past their “expiration” date. People know that at some point they will be replacing the tires on their car - But when is the right time, the safe time?

There are several factors to consider: Wear and Age. Let’s take each of these factors, one at a time.

Wear. This is the most common point of replacement. Your tires are worn out so you replace them. But, what does “worn out” really mean? Generally speaking, when a tire is worn down to 3/32” of tread it’s time to replace them. Why? The answer is simple – because they are unsafe. But let’s consider why they’re unsafe at that particular wear point.

Tires are intended to do one thing – keep your car in contact with the road. On a dry road surface staying connected is fairly easy. The weight of your vehicle is putting enough pressure on the wheel and tire to “make” it stay connected to the pavement. However, adding a thin layer of rainwater between the tire and the road changes everything. Believe it or not, your car tires could actually be “floating” on water, particularly at highway speeds. This is referred to as hydroplaning. The thinner the tread on a tire the less it can shed water. So, a tire that is below 3/32” has very little ability to shed enough water to prevent hydroplaning. All too often we see tires that are well below that 3/32” threshold, causing that vehicle to not only be unsafe but also a hazard to other cars in the adjacent travel lanes as well.

Now let’s talk about Age. Tires are not constructed to last forever. Even if a tire is NOT worn out it can still present a hazard. There is a code on every tire that allows us to know the date that tire was manufactured. If the tire is over 6 years old it will begin to dry rot and crack between the tread. Dry rotted tires will eventually allow the various parts the tire, known as belts to separate.

We’ve all seen pieces of truck tire tread on the highway. I like to call them, “Rubber Alligators”. I’m sure you agree that those alligators are most definitely a road hazard! The same decomposition can take place on a passenger car tire, but when it does the tire can either “blowout” or the separation of the various “belts” can cause severe handling problems that could lead to severe accidents.

The next time your car is in for routine service have the technician measure the tread depth and tire age. Remember tires should be replaced at 3/32” or 6 years, whichever occurs first and safety should be your first concern. Saving up for an “Early ReTIREment Plan” is essential so that the dollars needed are there when you need them to be. Putting a few dollars away every month will ensure that when the time comes to replace your car tires you’ll be able to make the smart and safe choice. The average price of a set of tires is between 600-800 dollars and last about 4 years for the average driver. Putting aside 12 to 16 dollars a month is all it takes. Why not start your “Early ReTIREment Plan” today!

Call North Hills Auto today: Augusta St (864) 233-9002 or Butler Rd (864) 234-1002.

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