Most individuals prefer taking their car to the service center every now and then to get any issues fixed, but it is always better for the owner to be aware of a few basics themselves. A vehicle owner has to be able to understand how to check his/her car for issues relating to the car tires. If such problems can be spotted by the driver on their own, they can avert possible accidents on the road. As the saying goes, “it is better to be safe than sorry.”

Visual cues to keep an eye out for
Overinflation can be noticed by checking the tires of the car. In the case of overinflation, there will be less wear at the edges of the tire since only the middle section of the tire is mainly in contact with the road. Under-inflation of the tires causes wear at the edges of the tire rather than the middle. This is because less air pressure results in the edges coming in contact with the surface of the road.

Cupping is an uneven wear pattern that occurs mainly because of either worn out shock absorbers and suspension parts or due to wheel misalignment. A raised tread or sidewall can suggest that the belts in the tire carcass might have separated.

Driving cues
Vibrations while driving or various thumping sounds can point to imbalanced tires. It could even mean a possible flat spot on the tire.

An inability to drive in a straight line could mean that one or more tires are underinflated or even damaged. This can pose a serious risk to people on the road including the driver and should be fixed immediately. This issue can even be characterized by a simple pull to a certain side of the road while driving.

Checklist for car tire safety

  • Check the tire pressure
    The tire pressure needs to be checked regularly and maintained at the levels prescribed by the manufacturer. Underinflated tires can be a reason for increased fuel inefficiency and also pose a serious risk of accidents. Tire pressure should be checked in tires that are cold. Also, make a point to keep tire pressure of spare tire maintained properly.
  • Ensure tire rotation
    Tires in the front and rear wear unequally because of the difference in loads. The difference in the general functions of steering and braking are also responsible for uneven wearing patterns. Tires of the car have to be rotated every 5000–7000 miles to ensure maximum efficiency and safety. Mileage varies according to the manufacturer and tires should be rotated accordingly.
  • Check tread depth and worn spots
    Use the penny test and the quarter test to check for uneven wear of the tires and need for replacement of the tire. These are proven methods to ensure that it is in working condition. Any failure in these tests warrants a tire replacement.
  • Regular wheel alignment check
    The wheel alignment should always be checked to ensure car tire safety. They have to always be perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other as misalignment causes uneven wear and disrupted fuel economy. A properly aligned wheel will result in the car driving along a straight line without drifting to the side. It is a very noticeable defect in the tire and should be fixed when noticed for the first time.
  • Check the tire age
    Look for the date code on the tires. Any car tire, regardless of wear, should be replaced if it was made more than 10 years ago for safety purposes. The date code can be found on the tire, marked by “DOT”. The last four digits on the DOT signify the date of manufacture.