Many drivers don't pay any attention to their tires until they become low on air or even go flat. However, checking your tires on a routine basis for signs of possible problems can save you a great deal of inconvenience as well as help keep you and your family safe while on the road. While some signs of tire trouble are obvious, such as a large bulge in the side of tire or a noticeable leak, other subtle signs exist that it may be in your best interests to have your tires checked. There are approximately 11,000 tire-related vehicle accidents annually in the United States. Following are five possible tire traumas that you should be on the regular lookout for.
The Tire is Worn Down in the Middle
If one or more of your tires shows significant wear down the center only, this is a sign that the tire has been consistently overinflated, and this condition can severely reduce the tire's amount of traction. The owner's manual of your vehicle will provide instructions on how to check the tire pressure, or you can take your car to a tire shop. If the tire pressure is correct, the wear and tear down the tire's center might be an indication that the tire is not correctly matched with the wheel.
The Tire is Worn on the Outer Edges
Wear and tear that appears only on the outer edge of a tire is a classic sign that the tire is underinflated. Not enough tire pressure is a dangerous condition that can cause blow outs, so it's important to check your tire pressure on a regular basis. Besides putting you in danger while driving, underinflated tires don't absorb bumps and potholes as well as tires that have proper tire pressure, and this could result in damage to your car's suspension or even knock its front end out of alignment.
The Tire is Worn Down on One Side
If one side of your tire is noticeably more worn down than the other, this could mean that the vehicle's camber setting is off, or it could also be caused by something as simple as neglecting to have your tires rotated on a regular basis. It's also possible that worn out spring joints or ball bearings are causing the issue. Driving with tires that are worn down on one side can cause the vehicle to continually list to one side, so it's important to find out what the root cause is, get it fixed, and replace the tire.
The Tire Has Flat Spots
Flat, smooth spots on tires are generally the result of parking your car in the same spot for an extended period of time, and they can also be the result of a skid. One or more flat spots on your tires may cause your car to slightly shimmy as you drive. Although they do not normally pose an immediate danger, flat spots on tires can cause problems when driving when there is a lot of water on the road because they make the tires more likely to hydroplane. Flat spots are easy to notice during a routine visual inspection because they will be noticeably smooth and without tread.
The Tire Has Scalloping
Scalloping is a noticeable series of bumps and ridges that can occur for variety of reasons. It could mean that the vehicle's suspension is worn out or damaged, and it could also indicate that one or more of the wheels are out of balance. Worn out shock absorbers are another frequent cause of scalloping. It's easy to spot during a routine visual inspection, and because this condition can lead to blowouts, affected tires should be replaced as soon as possible.