Rotating tires and checking the treads for wear has several benefits, including safety, cost savings, and increased tire longevity. Your tires’ treads are critical to safe driving, as they essentially act as a glove to keep your car on the road. As the treads wear, they start to lose their ability to grip the road’s surface. This can pose a tremendous danger, as it cause the car to lose traction on wet and icy surfaces. Furthermore, worn treads also make it much easier to get a flat tire, which can leave you stranded. Rotating the tires as necessary also reduces the risk of uneven tire wear. Regular tire rotations can also extend the lifespan of all four tires, and they prevent you from having to get new tires before you need to. Another critical reason to rotate the tires is that failing to follow a routine tire rotation schedule often invalidates the tire warranty.
Now that you know the reasons why you should rotate the tires and keep an eye on their treads, the next step is understanding when those services need to be performed. Most owner’s manuals have recommended mileage points for checking the tires. These numbers vary based on the make and model of the vehicle. Different classes of tires may also have their own set of recommendations for tire rotation. In either case, a general range for service is every 3,000 – 5,000 miles. Following the guidelines established in your manual or by the industry will greatly reduce the likelihood of uneven wear on all sides of the tire treads. If you or your mechanic notice uneven wear at the time of the scheduled service, you probably need to bring the car in more frequently for tire rotations. Alternatively, tires may show little or no indication of uneven wear at the time of service. Even if this is the case, it’s still important to bring the car in for its scheduled tire rotations, as regular service will keep the tires from wearing out quickly. Since tire rotations happen at about the same time as most oil changes, many car owners schedule both services at the same time.
While it’s always a good idea to have a professional perform tire work on your car, you can always do a preliminary check first to see if the tire treads are wearing out. A simple way to check tread depth requires nothing more than a penny. This is called the “penny test,” and it can be used on all makes and models of cars. To perform this test, simply slip a penny beneath the tread blocks on the tires, with President Lincoln’s head facing towards you and upside down. If no part of Lincoln’s head is visible, it’s safe to assume you have 2/32” of tread remaining, which is the legal limit for tread depth in most states. It’s also the depth cutoff established by the US Department of Transportation for safe tread limits. If the top of President Lincoln’s head shows when you place the penny between the treads, it’s your clue that the tires need to be replaced. If this is the case, make an appointment as soon as possible to prevent headaches and more problems down the road.