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Caring for your tires

A tire professional carrying out an inspection – check your tread depth regularly

Checking your tire treads

Regular tread checks are an important part of vehicle maintenance. Uneven wear, damage, and other visible changes can indicate potential problems with your tires or your vehicle. The sooner you spot any possible issues, the sooner a professional can help. You should inspect all four tires at least every month, and before and after any long journeys.

You can see the tread wear bars: Tires have bars of hard rubber that only become visible when your tire treads are worn beyond a safe limit. Once you see them, you should buy a new set of tires. You can find out where your tread wear indicators are by looking at your sidewall.

Your tire depth gauge shows excessive tread wear: It’s a good idea to buy an inexpensive tire depth gauge to ensure your treads comply with the legal minimum. According to EU law, a tire must have a tread depth of 1.6mm around the circumference in order to be considered safe to drive on. Fulda recommends that you maintain a depth of at least 4mm for winter tires. When checking depth, be sure to measure both the inside and outside of the treads.

You find foreign objects lodged in the tread: Small objects can become stuck in your treads. They don’t always do damage, but they should always be taken seriously. If they’re stuck in the groove, be sure to remove them carefully. But if it looks like something has pierced the rubber, leave it in and get to a garage where a professional can help.

You notice excessive wear on the outside of the tire: The wear patterns on your tire can indicate problems with inflation pressure. If you see that your tires are worn on their edges, you should check your tire pressure, and inspect for any potential leaks. Tires lose air naturally (and at double the rate in summer heat), but if you drive on underinflated tires, it uses more fuel and can increase your risk of accidents. If you notice that only the front tires show worn edges, it could mean you’re taking corners and curves too quickly.

Tires are worn in the center of the tread: Excessive tire wear in the center of the tread can indicate over-inflation. Putting too much air in your tires can increase your risk of a tire blowout. It’s important to inflate your tires to the manufacturer’s specifications. Use a pressure gauge and deflate to that level.

Tread wear is uneven across a single tire: Your wear patterns sometimes mean there are problems with your vehicle. Uneven patches or bald spots might mean it’s time for a wheel balancing or alignment. Bald spots can also mean worn shocks. If you see any wear like this, go to a dealer or garage for a diagnosis.

Tires aren’t wearing evenly: Because the front of your vehicle does most of the steering, your front tires will wear out more quickly than your rear ones. But if you think your front or rear tires are wearing more than they should, it’s a good idea to have a professional check your suspension. If the tire wear is greater on one side of the vehicle than the other, find out if you need an alignment.

Tire edges display a saw-toothed pattern: This is another sign that you might need an alignment. A saw-toothed or feathered pattern around the edge of a tire is often caused by erratic rubbing against the road. Talk to a dealer or garage.