It can be difficult to know when to replace tires especially if you are not certain what factors determine that you need a new set in the first place. The Lincoln penny test is still a useful gauge for tire wear, but there are other factors you should consider including the following.
1. Age. You may have low miles on your tires, but age can easily trump everything. Rubber deteriorate over time and older tires are much more likely to experience failure than newer ones. Tires that have been on your car for longer than six years should be replaced regardless of visual condition.
2. Usage. Tires that are on your car are being used regularly. The one in your trunk or the spare on the back of your SUV, is just sitting there. If your spare cannot be cycled in with your rotations, then keep in mind that this one may be virtually useless, especially if it has aged.
3. Temperature. If you live in a warmer climate such as south Florida or are in the desert southwest, your tires are wearing out faster because of the heat. High heat accelerates tire wear and can result in failure. Keep heat in mind when shopping for new radials.
4. Test. The Lincoln penny head test has long been used as a gauge for tire wear and is something you can use to determine wear. Grasp a Lincoln penny by the perimeter and push the penny head down between the tread. If the top of Abe's head is covered, then your tires are fine. If his head is exposed, you need to head to the appropriate retailer at once.
5. Observe. There are visual signs of wear that you should look for too. Uneven wear may mean that your tires are not be rotated regularly. Splits, cuts, cracks, punctures and bulges are signs of trouble too and can shorten your tire's lifespan. If you are not sure about the condition of a tire, your tire retailer can offer an assessment.
When replacing your tires in pairs, the newer tires should always be on the back even if you have a front-wheel-drive car according to CarTalk. If possible, replace all four tires at the same time, taking advantage of specials where you can buy four tires for the price of three. Don't forget the spare too as this tire might need replacing.
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