Tire failure causes around 11,000 car crashes each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Many of these can be avoided by occasionally checking your tires for signs of wear. In recognition of Vehicle Safety Week (May 22 through May 29), here are some things to look for that could mean it’s time for a tire change.
- Bulges. Tires bulge at the sides when they are low on air. The NHTSA estimates that tires lose about one pound-per-square-inch of pressure each month. A bulge or blister can also occur when the sidewall is weakened, which could lead to a sudden blowout.
- Cracks in the sidewall. Most tires that have been driven on for any length of time will have small, subtle cracks on the side. These are generally not noticeable unless you are right up on them. However, if the cracks are large and obvious from a distance, it could indicate a slow leak or a potential blowout.
- Constant pressure loss. Even if you don’t see cracks or bulges, you may notice that your tires seem to lose pressure frequently. It’s normal to lose about 2 psi per month. If you find your tires are leaking air more often than that, you may have a puncture or crack somewhere you can’t see.
- Tread wear. There’s an old-fashioned way of testing for tread wear that still works today: Place a penny into the tread, with Lincoln’s head pointing down. If you can still see the top of Abe’s head, the tread is too low. Many modern tires also have wear bars — bits of rubber woven into the pattern at a specific depth. If you can see that bar, the tread is worn out.
- Vibration. Drivers should be mindful of any kind of vibration or thumping when the car is in motion. This could be a sign that the tires are out of balance, especially if the thumping feels like it’s coming from underneath your seat.
Worn out tires can be a serious safety hazard. In addition to the potential for sudden blowouts, worn tires have less grip on the road, making it harder to stop on time. This is especially dangerous when driving in the rain or snow.
Moreover, driving on worn out tires could lead to a ticket. A ticket for unsafe tires (VTL 375-35-c) applies to any vehicle with tires that are not properly inflated or which have dangerously worn treads. A conviction can cost up $150 plus up an NYS surcharge of $63. However, no points are assigned to this ticket. Even better, the law allows the ticket to be dismissed if the driver can provide proof that it was repaired within the first full business day after the ticket is issued.
It is essential that you contact an attorney if you or someone you love has been ticketed for speeding in New York. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced traffic ticket attorneys with offices in New York and New Jersey. Email or call 888-203-2619 for a free consultation about your case.