If even if you’ve been checking your tires’ pressure throughout the winter months, spring is a good time to do a through inspection of your tires and wheels. With the nicer weather, you can take the time to check-out their condition and consider if you will need new rubber soon. Here are some tips to follow.
1. Some people delay or don’t bother removing their winter tires. While winter tires offer impressive traction on snow and ice, they often compromise stopping performance on dry and wet roads, don’t handle as well as all-season tires, and wear out quickly. If you have your winter tires on dedicated wheels, be sure to wash the tires and wheels thoroughly to remove winter salt spray that can cause wheel corrosion and store them in a cool, dry place.
2. Roads filled with pot holes can make winter driving tough on your car’s suspension. Whether you had winter or all-season tires on your car, check the evenness of the wear across the width of the tread. If you observe uneven tire wear, you might need a wheel alignment. Ignore it and your tires will wear out quickly and need to be replaced sooner than you thought.
3. With spring time here and summer around the corner, you’ll want a tire that can resist hydroplaning in heavy rain and slide on slick, wet roads. To check if your tires are well worn, try the quarter test. (Learn more in our tire-buying advice.) This is a good tool to determine how much performance you have left. If you have just about a 1/8-inch tread depth in any one tire groove, then start shopping for new tires.
4. Do I have to buy a complete set of new tires? We suggest buying four new ones at a time for the best balance of handling and dry and wet grip. Then rotate your tires routinely to promote even wear. But if you are like many drivers who don’t rotate tires regularly and need only two new ones, then be sure to have the new tires placed on the rear of the car for secure handling.
5. Check your tire’s inflation pressure routinely. Under-inflated tires can cause heat build-up; you’ll want to keep your tires properly inflated to combat the impending summer heat. Consult the vehicle’s tire information placard (typically found in the driver’s door jamb) and/or owner’s manual for your tires’ proper inflation pressure.