All Your Tire Questions Answered

We never tire of tire questions. Poor tires account for about 11,000 crashes across the country every year, so staying tire-savvy could save you from needing a 24-hour tow service.

Q: Why do tires need to rotate?

A: Whenever you drive, the tires do not drive evenly. Rotating your tires allows them to wear more evenly, prolonging their life.

Q: How often should my tires be rotated?

A: Your manufacturer might have a slightly different recommendation, but the general rule is to rotate your tires every 6,000 miles.

Q: How can I tell if my tire has enough tread left?

A: Use the Lincoln test to see if you have enough tread left. Grab a penny, and put it in between the treads with Abraham Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see the top of his hair, your tread is too low.

Q: Why is tread important?

A: Tread keeps your vehicle from slipping and sliding all over the road. The more tread your tires have, the better they can grip the asphalt.

Q: If I hardly drive my vehicle, do I need to worry about the condition of the tires?

A: Actually, yes. You might think your tires are in good condition because they aren’t wearing down, but the rubber can break down over time. If you have a classic car or recreational vehicle that you don’t regularly drive, be conscious of the tires and watch for any signs of deterioration (which could appear as early as six years after you first purchase them).

This rule also applies to spare tires. You might think you are in the clear because you haven’t had to pull your spare out, but you will want it to be in good condition if you do need it.

Q: What should my tire pressure be?

A: Each car is different. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific vehicle.

Q: What size tires should I buy?

A: Check your manufacturer’s recommendation for tire size, too.

Q: Where can I find my manufacturer’s tire pressure and size recommendations?

A: Your manufacturer’s recommendations are on a sticker inside the driver’s side door or in the owner’s manual in the glove compartment.

Q: When should I check my tire pressure?

A: Checking your tire pressure once a month will help you stay on top of any pressure loss. Tires lose around one PSI (pound per square inch) each month.

For the most accurate reading, check the tire pressure while the tires are cold (and haven’t been driven recently). When the tires are warm from driving, the pressure can change.

If you need more motivation: under-inflated tires cause more crashes, increase your MPG, increase your slowing time, decrease your control over your vehicle, and put additional wear on the other components of your tire.

Q: Should I own a tire pressure gauge?

A: Absolutely. Because you should be checking your tire pressure so frequently, having your own tire pressure gauge will help you stay on top of that.

Q: What should I do if my tire blows out while I’m driving?

A: A blowout can be scary, but remaining calm should be your first step. After that, follow these steps:

  • Do not drastically change your speed, but begin to slow down
  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel to stabilize the vehicle
  • Focus on a spot where you can safely pull over
  • Pull over to that spot and call an emergency towing company

Q: Do I need snow tires?

A: This answer depends on if you plan on driving in the snow. Snow tires have a thicker tread that comes in handy when driving in mud, slush, or snow. The thicker tread is not necessary during warmer months, though.

Even if you have all-terrain tires, you will still want to consider changing them during the winter. Snow tires perform better than all-terrain tires during the winter months.

Q: My car seems to veer in one direction. Do my tires have something to do with this?

A: Yes! Your tires are most likely misaligned. Take your vehicle to a tire professional so they can adjust your alignment.

Q: What are these letters and numbers on my tire?

A: Lots of information covers the outside of your tire. Here are what all the letters and numbers represent:

  • The tire name
  • P or LT to identify the tire for either passenger or light truck use
  • The nominal width is the three-digit number that gives the width of the tire (from sidewall to sidewall) in millimeters
  • After the nominal width is a slash, followed by the aspect ratio, which is the tire’s ratio of height to width
  • R stands for radial (which is the industry standard)
  • After the R is the rim diameter code, which is the wheel diameter in inches
  • M+S indicates the tire is suitable for mud and snow
  • The tire identification number, which has these three components
    • DOT: indicates the tire meets the standards set by the Department of Transportation
    • The next numbers or letters are a code for the manufacturing plant where the tire was manufactured
    • The last four digits let you know when the tire was manufactured; the first two indicate which week of the year, and the last two indicate which year (so 0420 would let you know the tire was manufactured the fourth week of 2020)
  • The treadwear indicator estimates how long the tires will last
  • The traction rating lets you know how well it stops
  • The temperature rating lets you know how well the tire resists heat

If you are still seeing even more letters and numbers, that might be the load index (a code letting you know how much weight it can handle) and speed rating (a code for the maximum speed the tire can handle). These aren’t on all tires because the law does not require them.

Give Roadside Rescue a call if your tires have failed you and you need an affordable towing service between Ogden and Bountiful or anywhere else along Utah’s Wasatch Front.