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When Is Your Tire Tread Depth Too Low?

Published on Jun 24, 2022 at 11:09 am in Car Accident.
When Is Your Tire Tread Depth Too Low?

A good set of tires can be the difference between driving safely and risking an accident every time you hit the road.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook when your tires are in need of replacement or repair, especially since there aren’t many clear signs that your tread depth is low, and your tires need attention. To help you avoid an accident in the future, keep an eye out for these signs that your tire tread depth is low, and you need new tires.

If You Hear a Thumping Sound When You Drive on Pavement 

You’re likely driving on a flat, worn-out, or low-pressure tire if it’s making a thumping sound. Flat or under-inflated tires tend to vibrate or bounce up and down as they travel along rough pavement. The rubber in your tires does not grip as well when it wears down, so you can hear thumping noises as your wheel makes contact with the pavement.

You will want to examine your tires to see if they need to be replaced if you hear this noise. If you opt to replace them, switch out all four tires at once, as each tends to wear differently.

For example, if one tire has 10/32 of an inch of tread left while another has 5/32 of an inch remaining, replace both because they will eventually wear to similar levels.

One way to find out how much tread is left on your tires is to:

  • Measure from the top of the tire’s white lettering to the bottom of the black letters
  • Subtract 1/32 from that measurement
  • Multiply that number by two
  • Divide by a 32nd per inch
  • Add two zeros after the decimal point

While some individuals may easily be able to follow this math formula to determine their tire tread depth, it will be more challenging for others. A qualified mechanic can crunch the numbers for you and advise you how much life your tires have left on them.

You Can Feel the Bumps in the Road Through the Steering Wheel

Tires can lose one-quarter of an inch of their tread over time, which means you may need to replace them. Losing a quarter-inch means going from 11/32 to 3/32 of an inch, which for most cars is enough to cause discomfort on bumpy roads.

A mechanic can help you identify what’s causing this uncomfortable riding experience by performing a tire inspection. They may determine that you need to replace your tires right away due to signs of uneven wear. If it looks like you have less than 5/32 of an inch in certain areas, then it’s time to get new tires as soon as possible.

Your Tire’s Wear Bars Are Exposed or Are at Less Than 1/16 of an Inch

If you have less than 1/16 of an inch of remaining tread at a two-inch location in one or more tires, it may also be time to replace them.

Tires with less than 1/16 of an inch can provide a smoother ride by reducing vibration, which helps increase gas mileage. When driven at highway speeds, tires worn down to 4/32 of an inch will make a humming noise. If you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, you must check all four tires for wear.

The measurements should be taken at three points across the tread. By being diligent about monitoring your tire wear, you can prolong their life, save money on replacement costs, and minimize your risk of becoming involved in a crash.

If You See Bulges in the Sidewalls

When a tire develops bulges in its sidewalls, it’s usually time to replace them.

The bulges are caused by bubbles, which form as air leaks out of a ruptured belt and escapes through pores in rubber. This occurrence leaves voids in the rubber, which will continue to grow until they break through the sidewall.

If you have any bubbles developing, you need to replace your tires right away. A quick way to check for air leaks is with soap and water. Rub some soapy water on all sides of a tire (except for its tread) after filling it with air. Suds will begin forming where bubbles are growing on or near a belt or bead area if there’s a leak.

Why You Should Get Your Tires Checked as Soon as You Notice Wear

Tires are an important part of safe driving. Unfortunately, signs of wear can be subtle and hard to spot—or ignored altogether. If you ignore minor problems with tires, they can quickly turn into major ones (think blowouts) that put you at risk for a crash. As soon as you notice any changes in your tires, it’s time to schedule a tire inspection by a mechanic.

You should also carefully weigh the advice a mechanic gives you about whether your tires need replacing. Even if they don’t fail right away, unsafe tires can cause an accident—possibly even on an otherwise smooth road. Road hazards like potholes, gravel, and wet leaves can cause damage if they get caught in between a very worn tire tread, causing you to lose control of your vehicle.

How To Proceed if Another Motorist’s Poorly Maintained Tires Caused Your Injury Accident

Don’t risk it—have a professional inspect or replace your tires before you get stranded or cause a crash. It may seem inconvenient, but it’s a small price to pay to avoid causing a crash that could hurt you and your fellow motorists.

Motorists often get out on the road in their vehicles when they aren’t roadworthy. If a motorist who did the same caused your injuries, you’ll want to consult with a lawyer. Our attorneys represent clients who have been hurt because of tire failure and mechanical failures. Reach out to us to discuss your Kentucky case so that we can help you too.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice. Viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Prior case results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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