Did you know that driving a car is one of the most dangerous things you can do? There are more than 18,000 car accidents every single day in the US alone, making it a high-risk activity whether you realize it or not.
And there are a number of things that increase your risk of getting in an accident. One of the most overlooked safety hazards is driving on bald tires. But one in three Americans doesn’t even know how to check their tire tread to see if they’re safe or if they’re bald.
Buying tires isn’t hard. You just need to know when it’s the right time. Keep reading down below to learn how to check the safety level of your current tires, and how to buy tires when it’s time for a replacement set.
Importance of Good Tires
Most people who drive a car on a daily basis have little understanding of how cars work. That means they don’t understand the importance of certain features.
Tires are one of the most basic components of a car. You need them to drive down the road. But that’s about all that people understand. There’s far more to your vehicle’s tires than that, though.
If you look at a new car tire, you will notice that it has gaps or crevices in the tire. This is called “tread.” Tread is what gives you tires grip on the road. And it’s vital for safety.
With the proper amount of tread, your car will turn, speed up, and slow down without sliding on the road. Tread gives you control over your vehicle and ultimately prevents accidents from happening.
But over time, your tires wear down, and the tread starts to wear away. When there isn’t much tread left, you have what is referred to as a bald tire. These tires have very little gripping capacity.
If you drive to stop abruptly on a wet road, your tires would likely slide across the ground and you’d hit whatever car or object is in front of your vehicle.
Driving without tread is extremely dangerous. It’s also less fuel-efficient, meaning you’ll spend more on gas each time you visit the pump.
How to Check Tire Life
So how do you know if your tires have enough tread left? Testing them is actually easy to do. You just need a quarter or penny.
Make sure your car is turned off and put into the parking position. Then, stick a quarter into the tread of your tire. Make sure George Washingtons’ head is upside down and facing you.
If the tread blocks the top of George’s head, you have enough tread left on your tire. If it doesn’t reach the top of his head, you need new tires.
With a penny, do the same thing. If the tread doesn’t touch the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head, you don’t have enough tread.
Make sure to test multiple spots on each tire.
What About Punctures?
Another common reason to buy new tires is when suffering a puncture. If you run over a nail, screw, or another sharp object, it may become lodged in the tire.
If that’s the only damage that the tire is experiencing, then repairing the tire is a simple, affordable option. If you bring it to a tire shop, they can remove and repair the tire for a small fee.
Most handy auto owners could do this themselves as well if they’d like to save $20 or $30.
You usually don’t need to replace tires after a puncture. If you do, you might only need to replace the affected tire. But if all the tires are already worn out, it’s a good idea to just replace them all so you have even tread levels on each one.
So you realize it’s time to buy new tires since you want to be a safe, smart driver. How do you actually buy tires without knowing much about cars?
The easiest way is to bring your car into your local auto shop or tire-specific shop. In the US, Wal-Mart and Costco are actually very popular places to get new tires. If you want to do a DIY replacement, then the best place to buy tires is Discount Tire Direct.
When you buy tires online, you’ll want to know what type of tire you need. Then, you just provide the make and model of your vehicle, and the ideal size will be provided/recommended. Here are the types of tires to consider.
The most common type of tire is the all-season tire. This is the do-anything type of tire that serves most people well.
It does pretty well in any condition or climate. But in areas with extreme conditions, it’s not ideal. For example, in northern states where snow and ice are present on the roads for months, a general-purpose tire isn’t ideal.
But for most driving on city roads and highways, they will do well.
Similar to all-season tires, this category is a general-purpose tire that focuses on greater traction and performance. The rubber is softer leading to more grip.
You’ll be able to drive faster and turn sharper. They are unnecessary for most drivers. Usually, people who are really into cars opt for this type of tire.
For those who need to drive in snowy, icy conditions, a set of winter tires is extremely important. They are designed to grip well, even when snow covers the road. Normal tires would slip and slide all over the place, leading to more accidents.
They aren’t made to function in spring or summer, however. So change into winter tires once the snow comes, and change out once most of the snow is gone.
If you have a larger vehicle or truck, and occasionally (or frequently) need to drive on dirt roads or rocky terrain, then all-terrain tires are a good idea.
They have a thick, bumpy tread designed to grip any surface. However, on paved roads, they are excessively noisy and bumpy. So if you primarily drive on paved roads, they won’t be enjoyable.
Tires are one component of a wheel, but wheels and tires are not one and the same.
When people talk about car wheels, they are generally talking about the metal structure inside the tire. It’s what you put the tire on.
The outer edge is called the rim. The middle portion is called the wheel disk. In general, most people refer to car wheels as “rims.”
Most car owners will never need to replace rims. They don’t wear out as tires do. And they rarely get damaged, unless in a serious accident. Somethings they might be damaged if they run over something, like a curb or rock.
Most commonly, however, people replace rims for aesthetic reasons only. Swapping out your rims can be one of the easiest ways to customize the appearance of your vehicle.
Rims come in many different styles and colors.
If you’re going to swap out your rims, the first decision you’ll need to make is steel or alloy.
Alloy is a combination of metals, usually nickel and aluminum. Alloy rims are lighter, leading to faster acceleration. They are also easier to sculpt, leading to a wide variety of designs.
Alloy can also accommodate a wide range of finish options, from polish to paint. But alloy isn’t quite as strong as steel, so they’re more likely to crack under pressure or in an accident.
Steel rims are much cheaper. They’re heavier and stronger, so they’ll likely last as long as the car. They are the type of rims that standard drivers prefer. No frills, just reliable performance.
They don’t have as many fun design options, but that’s the tradeoff when choosing a material.
If you are upgrading your rims, then you are likely doing so to enhance the aesthetic of your car. Spend some time researching what type of finish options are available on rims. You’ll want to choose a color and a rim design that matches the appearance of your car.
You might also want to invest in a custom paint job for your car. It’s hard to impress people with slick rims yet have a factory paint job that looks dull and lacks pizazz.
Getting the Best Deal
If you can plan ahead, then you can save the most amount of money. For example, if you anticipate changing your rims in the future, plan to do it at the same time as your tires.
When you buy a tire and wheel package, you can save money on both materials and labor, since they can do it all at once.
With tire and wheel packages, you get everything perfectly installed working in harmony with one another.
Buying Tires Is Quite Easy
Buying tires and wheels for your car isn’t that hard. If you bring it into a tire shop, they’ll tell you exactly what type of tires you need.
If you buy online, you’ll provide your car’s year, make, and model and the system will determine what tires and wheels will fit your vehicle.
Then, it’s’ up to you to choose the type of tire and aesthetic you’d like on your vehicle.
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