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Driving on Bold Tires: The Safety Guide


Driving on bald tires is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous things a driver can do.
According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), 13% of vehicles in the US have at least one bald tire. (https://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/12/13-percent-of-vehicles-have-at-least-one-bald-tire-study.html) Additionally, according to the Crash Causation Survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 9% of vehicle accidents involved bald tires. (https://www.carbibles.com/driving-on-bald-tires/)
Now, you may think that 9% is almost insignificant, but accidents happen all the time, and that 9% can easily increase if we ignore our bald tires. The less tread your tire has, the more threatening it gets, no matter what the weather condition is. So, if your tire’s tread shows these signals that it’s time to have it replaced. You don’t want to risk becoming a statistic for vehicle accidents on the roads.
What is Bald Tire?
A bald look can make a person look quite distinguished, but when it comes to tires, bald is never acceptable. The part of a tire that touches the surface is called the “tread”, and gradually, this tread gets thinner and wears out over time.  
When a tire’s tread is maximized and entirely thinned to its limit, you have a bald tire.
If your vehicle has bald tires, you need to take action as soon as possible and bring your car to the nearest automotive professional to have them replaced. Driving on bald tires is never safe. And the frustrating reality is that more than 1 out of every 10 vehicles on the road has at least one bald tire.
The consequences of having bald tires
The tires of your vehicle are literally what keeps them on the road. A tire is considered bald when you have a 2/32 tread depth remaining, and most shops even recommend replacing your tires when they reach 4/32 of an inch deep. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that of all the vehicle casualties in the United States, almost 10% of them started with tire complications, and even though there are variations of tire-related issues, bald tires are definitely one of them. (https://www.carbibles.com/driving-on-bald-tires/) Here are some of the dangers of driving with bald tires.
The specific purpose of tire tread grooves is to transmit water away from the center of the tire, but if your tire tread reaches 2/32 inch deep, there is less room for water locomotion. For everyone’s information, a skinny layer of water bands below the contact patch of the tire is generated when there is constriction between surface and water. This can build up the distance between the tire and the surface.
Technically, the tire is in union with the water, not the ground, and if you apply the brake in this situation, there is no room for the brake to hold on. Instead, this will slush through the water, creating hydroplaning. This can easily increase the chances of losing control of the vehicle, which can, unfortunately, lead to road casualties.
A particular amount of friction is a good thing, in fact, this is what’s preventing your tire from sliding uncontrollably. However, according to the rules of science, with friction comes heat. As the tread depth becomes shallow, friction increases, followed by excessive heat. This excessive heat continues to mount as you drive. The hotter your tire gets, the more the driver is close to his worst nightmare — a blowout.
Increased chances of swerving in icy conditions
Tire tread patterns also have small slots in them called “sipes”, which are designed especially for penetrating the snow. However, as the tire tread thins, so do the sipes. When these sipes go bald, the vehicle loses its ability to maneuver snowy roads. It may even cause your car to steer uncontrollably, despite pushing your brakes as hard as they go.
A tire tread below 2/32 inch deep is a thinner tire. They tend to be penetrated more easily by random nails, broken pieces of glass or even trash. These random pieces can cause a flat tire and even worse, a total blowout. In this situation, you only have two choices, to lose money for a tire replacement or to lose your car, and even your life.
Loss of air pressure
It is a proven observation that a bald tire loses air pressure faster than those with enough tire tread. A deflated tire could cause an improper distribution of fuel and braking issues, especially in rain. Without enough pressure, the driver can lose his ability to manipulate the car properly and may cause serious collisions.
Longer stopping distance
Bald tires will make your vehicle harder to stop at a short distance, whatever the weather condition. You need a long string of car lengths in order to make a solid stop. This puts you in a very difficult situation whenever you need to make an emergency stop. If a collision happens right in front of your car, you won’t be able to stop in time and might end up joining the accident.
Signs you need to replace your tires
As responsible drivers, we need to be fully aware of the signs that our beloved tires need replacement. Your tires need just as much maintenance as you give to your car accessories. These signs may or may not be visible to the naked eye, especially if you don’t pay that much attention. Here are 8 common signs that might mean you need new tires.
Tread depth
The greareview rule for tread depth is that your tire shouldn’t fall below 2/32 inch deep. If you religiously drive on slick and wet surfaces, especially snow, then you better have twice that depth in order to maintain a safe and manageable level of grip.
You can go to your local parts store and buy a tread depth gage, or if you are feeling lazy to go out, the solution is right in your pocket. Yes. A penny. Take a penny and put it into the tread, face down. If Lincoln’s head remains in sight, then you have reached the 2/32 limit. Have your tires at the nearest local auto parts store.
The Tread Wear Indicator Bar
Newer and younger tires have an easier and more convenient way to check its sturdiness. These tires have bars inside that only start to show up when the tires have reached the depth limit. They are perpendicular lines that appear along the tread itself. If one or more of these lines become visible, then it’s about time you got your tires attended.
Bulges and blisters
At some point in your tire’s lifetime, it will deteriorate, just like any other object. As the outer blanket of your tire weakens, bulges and blisters will appear.
Let’s say you have an aneurysm, and when a doctor finds out you have an aneurysm, you get to the nearest hospital as soon as possible before you blow out an artery and cause life-threatening internal bleeding.
This is the same to the bulges and blisters on your tire; as soon as these weak spots appear, you better get to the nearest local auto parts store and have your tires replaced before your car blows out.
Cracks in the sidewall
Checking your tire’s sidewall is just as important as checking the treads. Luckily for all drivers, having a sidewall check-up is easy. Look for cuts, grooves and even hairline cracks. If they are distinct enough to your eyes, they could easily cause a leak and eventually cause a blowout. So if these grooves are getting serious, have your tires replaced right away. Remember, small things can cause much bigger casualties. (https://auto.howstuffworks.com/5-warning-signs-you-need-new-tires3.htm)
Excessive vibration
When you’re passing by sickly straightened roads and rocks, of course, a particular amount of vibration is inevitable. However,  if you’ve been driving for quite a while, then you should know the difference between normal and abnormal vibration. Misaligned tires can be a factor in this, but not every time; it could also be a sign of an internal problem. If you feel too much vibration while driving, especially on nicely paved roads, have your tires checked by a professional as soon as possible. (https://www.mississaugakia.com/learning-centre/tire-info-5-warning-signs-you-need-new-tires/)
Your tires have passed the treadwear warranty
Most tires, if not all, come with a warranty for the purchase of tread wears, which guarantees them to last a considerable amount of miles or even years. Beyond the given date is not a safe bet for the driver to still use the tires. Even if the signs are not yet visible, internal problems may already be happening.
Cords are showing
Tires have metal wires lying underneath the tire treads. These metal wires are very significant in providing the longevity of the tires. These wires provide:

  • Flexibility of the sidewalls.
  • Reduction of fuel consumption due to less rolling resistance.
  • Less vibration.

These metal wires basically help the tire treads last longer. If one of these wires start to show up on your tire, have your tires replaced as soon as possible – this is a telltale sign that your treadwear has worn out. (https://www.farmandfleet.com/blog/10-signs-you-need-to-buy-new-tires/)
Your tires show uneven wear
This is probably the signal that most people don’t notice. Just because your tires look the same in size, they might still have uneven wear. Uneven tire wear affects the performance of your tires and can compromise your safety. The uneven tread makes it harder to maneuver. Uneven tread wear can come from improper pressure and poor alignment. It’s very important to regularly check on your tire pressure to determine whether or not your tires need replacement.
How to take care and preserve your tires
If it is important to be cautious with your vehicle maintenance, and it’s even far more important to be cautious with your tire maintenance. If your vehicle doesn’t handle turns, wet roads, or even brakes, the way they used to, it might be time for a thorough checkup.
A simple dedication to religiously checking the state of your tires can help your tires benefits last longer. Of course, at some point in time, your tire will weaken and you have to go to a professional to have it replaced. But if you’re thrifty (like me), there are ways to ensure that you wouldn’t spend as much on having it replaced as often, and still be safe! You might benefit from a simple rotation, alignment and balancing a lot more than you expect.
Check out some beneficial advice on tire maintenance that you can do yourself:
Check your tires regularly
Sometimes, all it takes is a visible inspection right in our garage to determine if there is an underlying problem. Your tires may be deteriorating without you even realizing it. Dedicate a considerable amount of time to check the durability of your tires once a week, and have it checked by a professional at the nearest local auto parts store at least once a year. Prevention is always better than a cure! (https://www.meineke.com/blog/take-care-of-your-tires-so-they-can-take-care-of-you/)
Secure proper tire pressure
Not enough air inflated in the tire can cause deflation, which can lead to a blowout. Too much air can cause premature tread wear, which can also lead to a blowout. That’s why it’s very important that your tires have the right amount of pressure. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time maneuvering your vehicle and could even cause collisions. Dedicate some time to checking your tires once per month and inflate more air if needed. (https://www.goodyear.com.ph/learn/caring-for-your-tires)
Be wary of the load index
Vehicles, indeed, have huge maximum capacities. But too much of something is not always a good idea, especially with cars. Always be vigilant in what your car can carry. Overloading your tires can cause overheating. The heavier the car gets, the more pressure your tires apply while running, which can thin your tire tread wears very quickly, and can eventually lead to their destruction.
Drive with enough speed
Stop driving too fast! High velocities can cause greater friction and heat on the tire tread wears and this can thin them easier than you may expect. Reducing your speed really does benefit your tires and can lengthen the life span considerably.
Have them rotated
The tires at the front of your car have the tendency to wear out faster than those at the back. To maintain the balance and prevent uneven tire wear, go to a professional and have them rotated once or twice a year. Rotating your tires helps achieve uniformity between the full set. An even wear can greatly extend the life span of your tires and helps reach maximum tread life without complications along the way. You might wanna when going in for other routine care services, such as oil change, to lessen your auto maintenance store visits.  
Have them aligned
When passing by a poorly paved road with lots of rocks, it’s inevitable that your tires get bumped around a little. Even when driving through properly smoothed surfaces, your tires can eventually change their alignment. Misaligned tires can cause great damage to your tire wear, making it less durable and reducing its life span. To prevent this from happening, visit a professional once or twice a year to have your tires aligned. (https://hawthorneautosquare.com/how-to-take-care-of-your-tires/)
Use your spare tire
Your spare tire isn’t just an accessory. Whenever you observe something wrong with your tire, replace it with your spare tire. Don’t drive on a tire that you know has issues, even if it’s just an observation. Maximize your spare tire until you get your car reviewed by a professional. But of course, don’t use your spare tire for too long. It can withstand road hazards and punctures but it is a well-known fact that spare tires are not as durable as your regular tire.
Prioritizing tire maintenance
Driving is in fact fun, and often a lot more convenient than going for a daily commute. But being a driver is not just about driving itself, it’s also about maintaining your car services and ensuring its longevity. Whether you like it or not, you should sacrifice some time and make tire maintenance one of your priorities.
A bald tire is not a sign of carelessness; everyone’s vehicle gets there one way or another. But there are a lot of things you can do and watch for to extend your tire’s life span. If we really are responsible drivers, we should consider these things to avoid spending too much on automotive professionals, because who doesn’t like to save money?
A simple tire replacement can cost a lot. Start by religiously keeping an eye on your tires. Monitor their wear and pressure regularly. Make it a habit to check on your tires, because simple inspections can save you a huge amount of money, and keep you and your passengers safer on the roads.

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