Cars speak to us, but a lot of the time, we can’t hear them.  Every single time something breaks and you get stranded on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck, your car warned you.  It sounds odd, but if you speak Car then you’re aware of it.

But the majority of us don’t speak Car, and those little bumps, rattles, and noises could be anything.  There is one way that you can brush up on what your car is trying to tell you: the tires.  The wear on your car’s tires speaks volumes about its health.  Here are a few things that your tires are trying to tell you:

You need new tires!

The most obvious thing you can tell from your tires is whether or not you need new ones.  If you spin the wheels at stoplights on rainy nights (without trying to!), then it’s probably time for a new set of rubber.  If you don’t want to wait for rain to see if a tire purchase is in your near future, you can use the “penny test;” simply hold a penny so Lincoln is upside down and place it between the tire treads.  If you can see his whole head, it’s time for new tires (in that case, you might want to check out these: Continental Tires).

Uneven tread wear?

One of the worst things for tires is a bad alignment job.  See, a properly aligned car will keep all four wheels flat on the ground.  That way you get the best handling, best braking, and longer tire life.  However, on a car with a bad alignment, the wheels don’t sit flat on the ground, or point too much to the left or right.  Drive long enough on those and the tires develop “feathering,” or uneven wear on the tire tread.  That means that one half of the tire may look brand new, while the other half looks 20,000 miles old.  If your tires are feathered, get an alignment done immediately!  It can bring the life of a set of tires down to 10,000 miles, or about 5 months.

Problems on the side

While it isn’t as common as other kinds of tire wear, sidewall wear can cause blowouts and be fatal.  The side of a tire isn’t as thick as the tread portion, so it is a lot more susceptible to scrapes and punctures; combine those scrapes and such with stress from high speeds, bad roads, or scraping the curb one more time while parallel parking, and you have a recipe for a blowout.  The real kicker is that most tire shops won’t patch or plug the side of a tire—as well they shouldn’t, considering that it is fairly unsafe.  In any case, damage to the side of your tire means that, in short, a little more time practicing parallel parking might be in order.

Parting Thoughts

Your car speaks to you, but most of us don’t understand what it’s trying to say.  While your tires say a lot more about your car than just those above, these will help keep that rubber in tip-top shape, keeping you safer and your car happier.

Have any tips about tire wear?  Had one of the problems we talked about?  Leave a comment!  We’d love to hear about it.

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