There are lots of places to go to get answers to automobile tire questions. If you have just read that last sentence I’m hoping that I will get a chance to provide some information to you. As a certified master technician I know a lot about the subject. God I love writing about tires. The way the rubber smells when there freshly manufactured, the little nubs on the treads ( Sorry).
I also recently replaced the original equipment tires on my 2009 Cadillac SRX. Not only are the tires expensive, but the vehicle only had about 27,000 miles. The whole ordeal was unexpected and expensive. On my vehicle the rear tires are a different size than the front ones. They call this a staggered design on the SRX. This prevents rotating them on a regular basis (thanks Cadillac). Due to weight distribution and the steering action of the front axle, tire rotation can actually reduce the overall wear therefore extending the life of the tread.
People often ask me including very cheap family members when should I replace tires. Usually the question is asked because deep down inside the driver knows that the time is either now or close at hand. For me I lean toward the side of caution and say go ahead and replace them when in doubt. The only contact the vehicle has with the road is through the tires. Add to this the fact that they are made from rubber and even the highest quality tire is going to wear out and need to be replaced at some point.
Checking Tires for Replacement
When fielding automobile tire questions sometimes I am asked about external damage. To provide a good answer I need to examine it closely. Sidewall damage is common and this could be considered the weakest part. Sidewalls are thinner and are not designed to take the beating that the tread surface does. A deep chunk in the sidewall will usually indicate that replacement is necessary. Especially if the chunk can be peeled back and fiber cords seen.
When I would perform end of car lease inspections the leasing company required that 4/32 of tread be remaining for the tire to be considered good. So for me as a rule of thumb anything less than that would indicate that replacement should be performed. If you are in an area of the country that has a lot of rain, ice or snow then you might want to replace them even earlier.
It is the job of the tread to channel away moisture, ice and snow to provide direct contact with the road surface. Tires have tread wear indicators molded into them. These are also called wear bars. When these wear bars show across the width of the tire it is considered worn beyond its limits or ability to do an effective job of channeling away water, ice and snow.
Besides the tread depth you should also check for bulges caused by impact breaks in the reinforcement cords as well as nails that might have been picked up from the road surface without your knowledge. Check them all then roll the car forward a couple of inches and look again.
Things to Consider about Replacement Tires
One of the most important things to consider is your geographic location. This along with the roads that you drive on and their overall condition are sometimes overlooked. Different brands and models will provide different levels of traction, performance and longevity. Speaking with an expert from the tire store is recommended as a starting point. This will often be a person from your area who already knows what conditions you are faced with.
With that said you should always do your own research as well just in case the tire store representative is motivated to put you into a certain kind of tire. In my younger days when I worked at one of these specialized locations we were often provided with bonuses for moving a certain brand or model. A good place to go for a second opinion is the tire rack or tire buyer websites.
People often forget that you can go there and not buy anything yet receive additional assistance for individual brands and models. What I like about the websites is it provides a lot of consumer survey results and reviews on specific tires. I found them to be accurate when looking for replacement sneakers for my own vehicle.
To review if you think you need tires you probably do. A good place to go to get your automobile tire questions answered is the tire buyer site. I wrote an article in August that covers a few more options for getting tires. For more information and articles posted to this website this next link will take you to the homepage for the auto repair information blog.