When is it time for new tires?

Once we put tires on a car, many of us don't give them another thought, until something goes wrong.

It's important to check your tires regularly to make sure they are inflated properly so they last a long time, and to make sure they have adequate tread on them for safety. Driving on bald or nearly bald tires is dangerous. If you're forced to brake suddenly, your car may not stop in time.

There are a number of signs to look for in determining if it's time to retire your tires. Cracks in the sidewalls are red flags. So is uneven tread wear, which can be the result of under-or-over inflation, wheels that are out of alignment or suspension problems, according to consumer reports. If the tread is REALLY worn, less than 1/16th of an inch, replace your tires. Most tires come with tread lines that show you how much tread you have left.

Another way to determine tread wear is to take a quarter and place it on edge with George Washington's head upside down between the treads. If you can see the top of George's head about the tread, it's time for a new tire.

If you tire has bulges on the side, do not wait. Go immediately to a tire center and have it replaced. Bulges are weak spots creating a risk for blowouts, which can be extremely dangerous.

If you notice your car vibrating a lot, you could have a damaged tire or a misaligned, bent or unbalanced wheel, adds Consumer Reports. In any case, it's likely time for new tires. Experts recommend replacing all four tires at the same time for even wear and a smoother ride.

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Tires

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