Tires 101

by admin

When you’re driving, the only thing that stands between you and the road are your car’s tires. Probably more important than most other auto parts, your tires are largely responsible for your safety while driving. Learning about your tires and maintaining them properly is important for you, your passengers, and the other drivers on the road. Here are a few helpful hints to help keep your vehicle’s wheels safe and sound.

closeup image of tire tread
Visually inspect the tread of your tires. Look for worn edges or bald spots. These could cause problems if not addressed. The tread of your tire is the grooved, rubber part that makes contact with the ground. Heavily worn tread can lead to unsafe driving conditions, especially in wet weather. Be aware your tires are legally worn out then the tread depth reaches 2/32nds of an inch. To test your tread depth, you can buy an inexpensive tire depth gauge at your local auto parts store or use the penny test. When using a penny, find a spot on your tire where the tread is worn and place Abe Lincoln’s head into the grooves. If Lincoln’s face is not covered by the tread, your tires should be inspected by a professional AAA Car Care technician as soon as possible.  Here are some additional tips from AAA on checking your tire tread.


Check your tire pressure. It’s a good idea to check the pressure in all tires, including your spare, once a month. Purchase a tire pressure gauge to keep in your glove box so it will be readily available. Before you drive, when your car is “cold,” insert the gauge into the valve stem on your tire. Compare the measured psi reading to the one found in your owner’s manual or on the sticker inside the driver’s door. If the psi indicates your tires are overinflated, let some air out until the number matches. If the psi shows you need air, either use a home compressor or bring your vehicle to the nearest retailer and fill until it reaches the proper psi. During your routine inspections at AAA Car Care, your technician will check tire pressure, but it is wise for you to check in-between visits. Both overinflated and underinflated tires can pose a danger on the road. Remember, it’s the air inside your tires that supports the weight of your vehicle.


Rotate your tires. Regular tire rotations will improve the wear of your tires and can be done during any appointment at a AAA Car Care Center. In most cases, your technician will remove each tire and wheel from your vehicle and move it to a different position. This ensures that all tires will wear evenly and last longer. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations on the frequency of rotations. If you need to replace one or more of your tires, AAA’s online tire store has a wide variety of brand name tires.

Find the right tires for your vehicle. With assistance from your AAA Car Care technician, you will be able to find the right tires for your car at the right price. Before you browse AAA’s online tire store for different brands, it’s a good idea to know the difference between the main types of tires. All-season tires are best for climates that having varying seasons throughout the year. Without the presence of extreme conditions, all-season tires are a safe bet. Performance tires are a good choice for off-roading and traction but may wear more quickly than all-season tires. Winter tires are a great choice when handling snow and icy conditions, while summer tires improve handling in dry conditions as long as the temperature stays above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Properly sized tires are also crucial to safe driving.

In the event of a blowout or problem with your tires, AAA members should call Emergency Roadside Service at 1-800-AAA-HELP or download the App. We can help change your tire if you have a spare, or tow your vehicle if necessary. Just have your membership card on hand so we can better assist you in times of trouble. As part of your overall maintenance plan, be sure to visit your local AAA Car Care Center for a free multipoint inspection.

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