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When are tires worn out?

According to most states' laws, tires are legally worn out when they have worn down to 2/32" of remaining tread depth.

To help warn you that your tires have reached that point, tires sold in North America are required to have molded indicators called "wear bars" across their tread pattern from their outside shoulder to inside shoulder. Wear bars are designed to visually connect the elements of the tire's tread pattern and warn drivers when their tires no longer meet minimum tread depth requirements. However, as a tire wears it is important to realize that while its dry traction and handling will improve, its ability to perform in rain and snow will diminish. At 2/32" of remaining tread depth, resistance to hydroplaning in the rain at highway speeds has been significantly reduced, and traction in heavy snow has been virtually eliminated. If you plan to drive in wet weather, you should consider replacing your tires when they reach approximately 4/32" of remaining tread depth. Since water can't be compressed, you need enough tread depth to allow it to escape through the tire's grooves. If the water can't escape fast enough your vehicle's tires will be forced to hydroplane (actually float) on top of the water, losing traction. How many tires should I buy? Just one tire? If your tires have a lot of remaining tread depth, but you need to replace just one damaged by an accident, road hazard or a vandal, you should replace it with a tire that matches the others exactly. That means getting a replacement tire of the same brand, model, size and speed rating. Tires that are not the same will not handle the same. You may not notice the difference during casual driving, but during emergency braking or evasive maneuvering the car may not handle the way you want it to. Some cars like Subarus and Honda CRV 4wd have very specific requirements for matching tread depth on all four tires. A pair of tires? If two of your tires have a lot of remaining tread depth, but you need to replace the other two because they were damaged or worn out, you should replace them with a pair of tires that come as close as possible to matching your existing tires. While identical new tires are desirable, others of the same size and type can also provide good results. Only consider selecting new tires that are from the same tire category as your existing tires. A set of tires? If all of your tires are wearing out together, you have the greatest flexibility in tire selection. If you were happy with the original tires, simply replace them. If you want longer treadwear, a smoother ride or more handling, there are probably tires that will help you accomplish that. Review the tire category types until you find a category description that describes a tire that fits your needs. How long do tires last? How long tires last depends on four things: the design of the tires, the pavement condition of the roads you drive on, how you drive, and how well you maintain the tires. You have no control over tire design, other than trying to choose a long lived tire based on treadwear ratings and mileage warranties. You don't have control over the pavement conditions either. However, you do have control of how you drive. The harder you accelerate, brake, and corner, the quicker the tires will wear. You also control maintenance. Maintenance of tires includes rotation and balance every 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles, maintaining proper tire pressure, and keeping the tires aligned. The better you maintain the tires the longer they last. Depending on the combination of the above factors, tires can last between 5,000 miles and 70,000 miles. What's the proper inflation pressure for my tires?

. Divide the number of miles the tire is likely to last (you can use the warranty mileage for an optimistic number) by the cost of the tires you are considering. I think most experts will agree on the following though. Why? Because we have see customers wear the inner and outer edges of a tire with documented history of manufacturers recommended inflation pressure. The reason for setting up this six-year standard is that some research has shown that after that amount of time passes. too? If you talk with your mechanic when your car's getting fixed. Car part longevity isn't a new idea. Just remember never to inflate under the owner's manual pressure recommendation. But some safety advocates want to add an expiration date of six years onto each tire. Frequently you will find that tires that are initially inexpensive end up costing more per mile. the estimate of how long a tire can last is based primarily on the tread wear. Why are tires so expensive? Tires are not very expensive when compared with other automotive maintenance costs on a per mile basis. many of those products have a sell-by date or even a "good before" date that indicate the lastpossible day a company can legally sell that product or the date when the product will become rotten or spoiled. however. we'll find out why tires may need this expiration date in the first place. If a tireis wearing in the center it is over-inflated. there are alwayscircumstances when the auto part information given by a manufacturer may not apply. Tires shouldnever be run over-inflated. Gas seems fairly cheap if you consider its price one tank at a time. in order to protect consumers. over the maximum pressure on the tiresidewall.This is not an easy question to answer. Everyone has different opinion. When you are selecting new tires. you'll find that typical total fuel costs for just 10 to 20 thousand miles of driving actually exceed tire costs. Are these the exact perfect tire pressures for your car? No. We feel that the owner's manual recommendation is often too low. in fact. If in doubt. car manufacturers affix warranties on new cars and trucks which tell you how long certain parts are guaranteed for. but you'll usually see a manufacturer listing of how many tens of thousands of miles you may expect out of that particular tire. The tire industry has not yet set up its own estimate. like most other auto parts. he'll probably won't mind telling you what area of the car he repaired. but some reports show that tires can actually go bad long before this happens. We use the following controversial method: fill the tire to an amount under the max PSI listed on the sidewall. under the PSI recommended in your owner'smanual. it's usually better use a higher pressure. like car parts. Some individuals and safety groups are calling for a little more car part information disclosure. Not to mention the fact that cheap tires are more likely to develop defects before the tread has worn down. However. That is. tire failures dramatically increase. Unlike other car parts. like how long a specific component you just bought might last before it goes bad. For 35 max PSI tires we recommend filling to 32 PSI. consider evaluating your situation by comparing "how much per mile" each tire will cost. These dates are used to protect the consumerfrom food that could possibly harm them if purchased or consumed too late. But what about other products we use. When it comes to car part longevity. That is. Many cars using the exact same tires weigh different amounts and therefore require different pressures. even if its tread is still deep. For 32 PSI max tires we recommend filling to 30 psi when cold. partly because it doesn't want to give consumers the idea that its tires are guaranteed to last that long [source: Holguin]. like a sell-by date or expiration date for tires.     Tires shouldnever be run under-inflated. We all know that tires have to be replaced after the tread wears down. but over time a tire can lose some of its strength and cease to function the way it was designed. If you disagree with our method. should they have sell-by dates. if you keep track of your costs per mile. If a tireis wearing on both outer edges it is under-inflated. but one important part of your car often goes unnoticed when it comes to auto part longevity: the tires. Tires are built to withstand thousands of pounds of weight and can endure some pretty harsh environments. The estimates themselves can range greatly for each tire. In the case of tires. For 44 PSI max tires we recommend filling to 36-38 PSI cold. feel free to use someone else's or make up your own. are built to withstand a great deal of wear and tear. Here's our opinion on how to get the proper pressure for your tires. the main auto parts that were replaced and he might even tell you some additional auto part information. Tire Expiration Dates Tires. however. tire manufacturers always give an estimate for about how long a tire should last. regardless of how much tread is left on them. On the next page. Should auto tires have a sell-by date? When Americans purchase food productsfrom grocery store shelves. You can fine tune the pressure for the best tire wear.

you'll see three numbers after the DOT letters. Stress from the weight of the car causes oxygen to be forced against the inside of the tire walls. But how does a tire's age affect its performance? Read the next page to find out.]. there are many manufacturers including Porsche.Although there isn't a set expiration date as of yet. follow the links on the next page. you'll see another list of numbers. consumers could be purchasing sets of tires that may not be as long lasting as the mileage they're guaranteed for. Not only does oxygen break down a tire's material properties. When oxidation of a tire occurs. So statistics on whether or not older tires are the root cause of tire-related accidents is difficult to nail-down. Think of it this way. Tread separation is when the tread section of a tire peels off from the rest of the tire during use. But tires that are mounted on a rim. a tire ages when there is a "loss in a tire's material properties. The first two numbers indicate the week it was built and the last two digits specify the year the tire was made. which is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. "Allegations that there is a correlation between tire performance and chronological tire age are unfounded and unsupported by data" [source: Rubber Manufacturers Association]. The NHTSA reported that a tire can lose its elasticity over time. can still undergo oxidation. the last number indicates the year the tire was made. Toyota. potentially causing a driver to lose at least some control over the vehicle. structural defects and improper installation of the tire [source:National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]. Heat from a tire's friction against the pavement can also cause a tire to wear down on the inside. a speed rating that corresponds to a maximum safe speed your tire can sustain. those manufactured in 2000 or later. Oxidation causes the steel belts in the tire to lose their adhesion to the rest of the components. normal wear and tear affect a car part's longevity. There are lots of markings ranging from the type of tire. But how can you determine the age of a tire? You can tell how old a tire is by looking on the tire's sidewall. When an accident occurs. When a tire endures normal use. The NHTSA is conducting more car part information testing with tires to provide the industry and consumers with the most significant information possible. Inc. like a spare tire. In addition. the break down of material properties in that tire can lead to tread separation [source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]. even if they aren't used or if it's used infrequently. for example. On newer tires. find out how a tire's age could be dangerous for drivers. Ford. or if you see a "2409" that would mean that the tire was made in the 24th week of 2009 [source: Holguin]. If a tire is placed on a car shortly after it's been made. Inc. While other car parts and factors may play a role in tire failure. But is this really a problem? Up next. 85 percent of those claims were for tires that were more than six years old [source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]. overloading a vehicle beyond an acceptable weight. however. including the spare. this doesn't mean that a tire's age doesn't have anything to do with tire failure. the NHTSA reportedthat about 400 fatalities occurred in the United States due to tire failure [source:National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]. The same goes for tires. if you see a "297" the tire was made in 1997. after six years regardless of use or tread wear [source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]. The combination of these factors can then cause the entire tread to separate from the tire. Having a tire sitting around for several years may actually reduce its longevity. The NHTSA has received opposition from some organizations. you'll see four numbers. it doesn't mean that milk will still be fresh when you do use it. . companies like Ford Motor Company already encourages its customers to scrap their tires if they're more than six years old [source: Holguin]. which over time leads to a reduction or performance capabilities" [source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]. however. But a tire's longevity is affected by more factors than just the oxidation issue we talked about on the last page. So now we know how to determine how old a tire is and that some car manufacturers and safety groups encourage a six-year limit on tire age. the oxidation that occurs has a minimal effect on the tire because the tread usually wears down before the oxidation causes any major problems [source: Safety Research and Strategies. The RMA issued a pressrelease in 2009 stating that. The NHTSA reported that from 2002 to 2006 a large insurance company said that 77 percent of its tire claims came from five states with hot ambient temperatures. improper maintenance. For more about tires and other auto part information. if you look after the Department of Transportation (DOT) letters. the size of the tire and also when the tire was made. the age of the tire is not usually recorded. How Tires Age A tire is comprised of many individual parts that are bonded together through a high-heat-curing process calledvulcanization.or under-inflation. Chrysler and BMW who strongly recommend replacing all tires. affecting the car part longevity. several factors contribute to the tire wearing down and losing its desirable properties. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The process of heat and oxygen affecting a tire's material properties is called thermooxidative aging [source: Safety Research and Strategies. With tires that are aging before they're even in use. However. So. if you buy a gallon of milk but don't open it for 8 weeks. for example. which increases it's chances of becoming dry and brittle on the inside. like the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). The NHTSA is continually studying car part information and the dangers of older tires to provide consumers with more specific data on this issue. Dangers with Old Tires From 1994 to 2004. If the tire was made before the year 2000.]. As with all auto parts. but heat also causes tires to break down even faster [source: Gin]. Other factors that cause tires to fail can be over. auto part information can be entered into a database for statistical purposes. The milk will curdle regardless of whether or not you've opened it.

A plug is about a third of the cost of a patch/plug. You have expensive tires with lots of tread left. We didn't even need the dunk tank. For more on the argument in favor of doing things the wrong way. 2. or an internal patch/plug combo. Plugs We offer two types of tire repair here at Art's Automotive: tire plugs. repairing with a patch plug is the only RMA (Rubber Manufacturers Association) approved way to repair a tire. The first step in any tire repair is to find the injury. if they struck a chord. Here are some of the reasonsyou might want to pay more for this repair: 1. we just followed the hissing sound to the bit of metal sticking out of the tire. and while you might go with the cheaper option on your own car. On the other hand. For the record. so people often want to know what the difference between the two repairs are before making a decision about which one to choose. A tire patch/plug is the best way to repair a tire. you want the very best for them.Patches vs. the tire must be removed from the rim. Before that. To install a plug patch. click here. You're willing to pay more increased reliability. and you want a quality repair to protect your investment. This one was easy enough. A family member drives the car. If none of these statements describes your situation. . Your tire has an injury that can not be repaired with a plug. but it costs more because of the additional time and materials necessary to do this type of tire repair. read on. the wheel weights must be removed to prevent damage to the tire as it is being removed from the rim. 4. click here and allow me to lure you to the dark side. 3.

Then the wheel is moved onto the turntable and the tire is removed from the rim.Here Leon is "breaking the bead" which basically means getting the tire unstuck from the rim so it can be removed. .

The buffing removes the slick surface and exposes a "raw" surface the patch will stick to. and now we're buffing the area. Looks like it was a large staple that got stuck in this tire so there are 2 holes in it. . This raises the question of whether it would be better to install a separate plug in one hole. A plug patch has only one "plug" portion. or to just fill one of the two holes with the patch plug. We've marked the injury with chalk. removed the staple. and use the patch plug to fill the other. We also use a solvent to remove the mold release agent the tire was coated with during manufacture and prep the rubber for the tire cement. the latter would be the better option. I think that because the holes are so close together.Here's an inside view of the damage.

If it won't. The plug portion of the plug patch is encased in a disposable metalsleeve to guide it through the tire. Then the plug patch is pushed into place. Tire patch cement is a applied and allowed to dry for 5 minutes or so. . we'll need to use a carbide burr to enlarge the hole a little. There are different size plug patches for different size injuries.Next we gently guide a pick through the injury to find the angle and make sure the plug patch will fit through.

The patch is then smushed into the tire using a tool called a tire stitcher. . leaving the rubber tire plug in place.Once through the tire. the metal sleeve is removed. The rubber plug is then cut so it is flush with the tire.

re-balanced. and rechecked for leaks. Even when working at a good pace. wheel weights. it takes about a half hour to complete the whole process.Then the whole patch is covered with another coat of tire cement. Plus the cost of the patch. Then the tire is installed on the rim. and a valve stem. .

If you are the type who wants the best quality repair. if you remove the tire from the rim to inspect for damage" "No. or would rather spend money on their kid's piano lessons than on the very best tire repair? Should we tell them about how professional we are and how we don't do nonstandard repairs. The point of this bad bit of poetry was to illustrate that installing tire plugs is a controversial procedure. I'm convinced that the integral plug-patches are the *best* repair option. especially if the tire is not removed from the rim for inspection. of course. plugs are only for temporary emergency repairs" "Yes. someone will surely strongly disagree. and how their tire could loose pressure and crash killing their whole family (failing to mention. we only use patches" Let me start this article by saying. No matter what my answer. and that it's extremely unlikely a tire leak will result in their death. you can only use a plug in conjunction with a patch" "Yes. as long you can pay cash and don't need a receipt" "No. The the answer to the question of whether tire plugs are an acceptable repair is certainly more objective than the statement "Blue is a pretty color. congratulations on your financial success.Last Updated on Tuesday. plugs should never be used" "Yes. some of themshouted at you as if you were the stupidest person in the world. You're probably right. Ask 10 mechanics whether it's OK to use a tire plug to repair a nail hole in the tread of your tire and you are likely to 10 different answers. who doesn't agree with the company who makes tire plugs. only integral plug patches can be used" "Yes. If that's you. if the nail isn't near the sidewall" " No. well." but less objective than a fact: "Water boils at 212F at sea level." The most credible sources don't like the tire plug as a stand alone repair. and I'd be more than happy to install a costly plug-patch and help you redistribute some of your wealth (into my pocket). "Yes. I should stick to my day job and leave butchering Shakespeare to the pros. Or to leave unplug'd the tires I see troubled. or not to plug: that is the question: Whether it 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outraged industry peers. that they could run over a nail on their way out the driveway after getting an expensive patch repair. How could it not be since mechanic "A" doesn't agree with mechanic "B" who doesn't agree with tire manufacturer "A" who doesn't agree with tire manufacturer "B" who doesn't agree with the company who makes one type of patch kit. But what about the customer who's struggling to make ends meet. And by opposing them? To save PSI: To end seep. I'm going to give you the "wrong" answer. Yeah. if the nail hole is near perpendicular to the tread" "No. regardless of cost. I do it all the time" "No. or any other adverse outcome other than a flat tire)? Should we worry so much about the ever-so-faint possibility of a . 07 December 2010 16:54 To plug. who doesn't agree with the company makes another type of patch kit.

.lawsuit that we refuse to do tire plugs for customers. we recommend a new tire instead of repair. not computers) with the tire deflated. All this will take place in a courtroom full of plasma TVs running 3D computer animations in slow motion. we're pretty confident tire plugs will make a good permanent repair for certain types of punctures. 07 December 2010 16:55 .sometimes tires go flat! Sometimes it's because a repair didn't work. If the lettering or sidewall design is worn down. Back to reality. Let's face it -. we do the exact same thing several times per day. I suppose it intuitively makes sense that a patch or plug on a continually flexing sidewall will fail. we feel it should not be repaired using a patch or plug or both. We also digitally inspect the sidewall (fingers. If the tire has a hole larger than 1/4". We wouldn't want invisible carcass damage to cause a blow out!" Silly isn't it? I'm not trying to say the RMA is wrong. We feel this is all that needs to be done before repair. none of the plugs ever failed. Did you fill it up?" Mechanic: " Why no. and should not be plugged. against another team of lawyers that will argue the improper repair was holding and the carcass damage from the low pressure was caused by the driving done with low pressure caused by the original injury before the repair. we found one of your tires was low on pressure". If the tire is a performance tire and the driver pushes it (hopefully on a track rather than around my neighborhood). without removing the tire from the rim. They no doubt know more about tires than I ever will. and no. Your lawyers will no doubt be better looking and your plasma TVs will be bigger. Other than these exceptions. we're gonna keep on plugging away :) Last Updated on Tuesday. We just want to fix cars as a means of supporting ourselves. get a plug. I just want to temper their recommendations with a little personal experience and common sense. but so is the majority of the industry. they're talking about a tire that is just low on air! If we took that statement to the extreme. it's probably better to use a plug patch or buy a whole tire. If you want an improper repair with a 99% success rate. We may be doing tire repairs wrong. If you find it. your team of beautiful lawyers will argue the improper repair caused the low pressure that caused the structural failure that caused the blowout. But they're not talking about a tire with a hole. whether they are aware of it or not. Sometimes it's because there was something sharp on the road and you drove over it. Does it really matter why? If you get a flat. How do you tell if the tire was damaged from driving low on pressure? Some sources say to check for rubber powder inside the tire. Smith: " Oh. Sometimes it's because the tire was under-inflated Sometimes it's because the tire wasoverloaded. It's like an episode of CSI. Many tire manufacturers say *any* type of repair will void the speed rating on the tire. it may be damaged. It's better to patch this type of injury. Now that I've lured you to the dark side. The RMA also says 88% of the tire repairs they found when examining used tires were "improperly done". without removing the tire from the rim. The Rubber Manufacturers Association states that a tire driven low on pressure (as a tire likely might have been if it had a nail hole) can develop damage to the carcass that can not be detected and could cause rapid air loss (a blowout).. all installed from the outside in. it probably should not be repaired with a plug or any other method. patched. At one point my wife's car had 5 tire plugs in its 4 tires. the chances of the plug failing to seal go way up. I should say that there are times a tire plug is a poor repair choice. plugging is not a good option. Why? Because after many years of installing tire plugs on whole wheel assemblies. If a tire has been driven low on pressure for long enough. how would the "professional" mechanic handle a low tire? Mechanic: "Ms. If the puncture is on the sidewall. to see if there are any abnormal soft spots. Thanks. and 99 out of 100 working perfectly.. Now that we know better. are you going to install the spare and continue on with your commute? Or do you have the fantasy of hiring a company that does failure analysis and a team of lawyers to avenge your lateness to work and grease smudged shirt? Yeah. that would be unprofessional! We replaced it. or repaired in any way. I'll give your $12 back and you buy yourself a consolation lunch while we fix it again. I do love her. If the nail or screw did not go in fairly close to perpendicular to the tread. so you'll win and receive one zillion dollars and buy your own island. Obviously you'd have to remove the tire from the rim to do that. that's it. even though every mechanic working here has used tire plugs on their own cars? I'd rather leave the scare tactics and stonewalling to the professionals out there. we usually just look at the sidewall for wear where there ought to be none. Ms. If the puncture is caused by anything other than a nail or screw. This is one of those rules repeated by many in the tire industry. Before we knew better. If you're the unlucky 100th customer. Instead. Smith. I can see it in my minds eye. we pulled nails from tires and installed tire plugs from the outside of the tread in. the tire needs to be replaced. and yes. Why do we choose to obey this rule while flouting the "never repair a tire on the rim" rule? We'll.

it will cause a vibration when it spins fast. it's best (but not essential) to have them match. Tire balancing means adding lead weights to a rim to cancel out any heavy areas of the tire. This happens because -. balancing all four tires every 5. Last Updated on Tuesday. the front brakes (and therefore the front tires) do most of the braking. kind of like a washing machine with an unbalanced load when the spin cycle starts. both of which may be different from the rotation pattern your mechanic wants to use. Rotating the tires helps minimize each of these types of wear by minimizing the amount of time the tire spends in each position. What is tire balancing? Tire balancing means adding lead weights to a rim to cancel out any heavy areas of the tire. Since tires have differing handling and traction characteristics. and to maintain stability (caster).000 to 15. If you left the tires in the same position. Some older and cheaper tires do not do well when rotated side to side. or in severe cases it has been described as. The rear tires tend to develop a choppy wear pattern.the engine's power goes though the front tires on it's way to the ground. Usually tire manufacturers will publish their preferred method. so long as each tire spends equal time on the front of the car and the rear of the car. the vibration can be felt in the rest of the car as well. Even cars that have a full size spare often use a tire that is not rated for freeway speeds. "like a coin operated vibrating bed in a hotel".Rotation .000 to 7. In other words. 07 December 2010 16:55 Home All Publications Automotive Tires . and you might not be able to match to your rear tires. Why should I rotate my tires? Tires should be rotated to increase the life of the tire.500 miles probably would not give you any appreciable benefit over balancing the tires every 10. so if in doubt.How often should tires be rotated? Most mechanics recommend tire rotation somewhere between every 5. Tires can be rotated in other patterns though.000 miles and 7. or the rear view mirror shaking. it's a safe bet to just rotate front to rear without crossing side to side. When the wheel starts to vibrate. or a rim that does not match the other four. the fronts would wear out when the rears were only 1/2 worn. prevent irregular wear.500 mile. However. What is the difference between tire balancing and alignment? Tire balancing and alignment are often thought to be the same thing. which may not be the same as what your vehicle manufacturer recommends. Most of the time the spare should not be rotated in. and to allow all four tires to wear out at the same time so they can be replaced with a matching set. and by the front wheels' tendency to increase toe-out at freeway speeds. There are two reasons for this: 1) A rear tire that is out of balance may not cause any noticeable symptom (vibration or shaking on the freeway). The truth is it doesn't make a lot of difference which way you rotate the tires. For example. it may cause a very noticeable symptom. not to lean to either side (camber). What is tire rotation? Tire rotation is simply changing the position of the tires on the car.a spare tire that is smaller than the rest of the tires so it fits neatly in the trunk. taking the front tires and putting them on the rear.000 miles. and the front tires shoulder more of the cornering load. People often report this as the steering wheel shaking. which is caused by the skipping and hopping rear toe-in or toe-out can cause. then taking the rear tires and putting them on the front. You would then need to buy two front tires. And 2) Balancing all four tires with every rotation might be "over servicing". but it would cost twice as much. If the tire has a heavy spot. but are actually completely different. if the tire is moved to the front during the rotation. Tires in the front of the car develop wear pattern peculiar to the front of the car and tires in rear develop wear patterns peculiar to the rear. Tires that are on the front of a front wheel drive car wear twice as fast as tires on the rear of a car. Tires in the front tend to wear on the inside edge. This is caused by scrubbing on the inside of the tire as the suspension compresses when going over bumps. Should I rotate my spare tire in? Most cars these days have a "space-saver" spare -. Wheel alignment is adjusting the wheels to point straight ahead (toe). When should I balance my tires? We recommend balancing the two tires leaving the rear of the car to go to the front with every rotation.