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Bald is Not Beautiful When it Comes to Your Tires Tread

According to most state laws, tires are legally worn out when they have worn down to 2/32″ of remaining tread depth. Tread wear can be identified by using U.S. coins substituted for a tire tread depth gauge as tires wear. Consult your local tire retailer if you need help with the condition of your tires.

No matter where you live, or what time of the year it happens to be, there is always the potential for inclement weather. Any time it rains or snows and you get behind the wheel of your car, you can be faced with driving risks. Depending on road conditions and your driving speed, stopping on wet roads can take up to four times the normal distance. And if your tires are worn … they can hydroplane, or skim over the surface of the road with little or no traction.

Unfortunately, there are more people than you may realize who are sharing the road while driving on worn tires. Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study of 11,500 cars, pickup trucks, vans, and sport-utility vehicles and found that nearly 50% had at least one tire with half-worn tread wear. Another 10% had at least one bald tire.

Worn tires … especially bald ones … can be deadly on wet roads, where the grooves aren’t deep enough to channel water out from beneath the tread. The result is hydroplaning, where the tread wear allow the tire to skim the water’s surface and the vehicle no longer responds to the steering wheel. Wet weather braking and snow traction also decrease with tread wear on balder tires.

Industry advocates like the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) remind drivers to check their vehicle’s tires as part of regular seasonal maintenance. According to RMA research, two out of three drivers don’t know how to tell if their tires are bald.

The accepted standard for tires to be considered bald is when one or more of their grooves reach 2/32 of an inch deep, compared with about 10/32 of an inch for new tires. FYI – tire tread wear is usually measured in 1/32-inch increments. To make bald tires easier for owners to spot, manufacturers have placed a series of molded horizontal bars at the base of the grooves. As the tire treads wears away the bars become flush with surrounding tread when the groove’s depth reaches 2/32 of an inch.

Traditional tread condition has been easily checked with a Lincoln penny. Placing the penny upside down within the tread, if you saw the top of Lincoln’s head, the tire needed to be replaced. However, testing shows that you should consider changing tires sooner. There is quite a dramatic difference between the stopping distance of a tire with 2/32- inch of tread compared to 4/32. Using a quarter will help you quickly find out if you have 4/32- inch of tread left. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s wig, then it is time to get new tires.

Since tire tread provides the gripping action and traction to prevent a vehicle from slipping and sliding, a tire is not safe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 1/16th of an inch. Not only is it extremely important for your driving safety to ensure that your tires have ample tread, but it’s also very important to make sure your tires are properly inflated. It can’t be stressed enough … if you drive on tires that are bald or substantially under-inflated you risk injury, or worse, to you, your passengers, and other drivers on the road.

It’s important to understand the risks you face as a driver when driving in challenging weather conditions and the affect worn tires can have.

Winter Grip Slips On Worn Tires
Deep grooves and an array of small slits, known as “sipes,” help new tires bite into snow. Shallower tread and worn-away sipes reduce snow grip, affecting traction on acceleration and overall braking performance.

Summer Rain and Hydroplaning Starts Sooner As Your Tread Wears Away
Common sense should tell you that the faster you drive on wet pavement, the greater the risk of hydroplaning. Simply put, higher speeds allow less time for water to escape through the tread grooves. Shallower tread worsens that situation by allowing more water to stay beneath the tire.

Less Tread = Longer Wet-Weather Stops
Reduced wet-weather braking can be even more dangerous than hydroplaning. Compared with new tires, well-worn tires take much longer to stop, even on vehicles equipped with antilock braking systems.

To better protect motorists, the NHTSA has launched a tire safety campaign called: “Tire Safety: Everything Rides on It.” Through ads, brochures and radio ads, the campaign advises car owners to check their tires monthly, as well as prior to a long trip, to be sure they have safe tread wear, and will stress the importance of proper tire inflation and vehicle load limits.

About Belle Tire
People have trusted Belle Tire for the best value since 1922. Because at Belle Tire we challenge ourselves every day to make sure that you always get the lowest tire price, period. Prove it to yourself. Take the Belle Tire Price Challenge. Challenge us online, over the phone or even challenge us right in the store. Come in to any Belle Tire, and we’ll check other stores’ prices with you, right at the counter, and prove to you that Belle Tire has the lowest tire prices, PERIOD! Plus, at Belle Tire, you’ll always get out the door with more value, services and protection with every tire installation than the competition can offer, at any price! For the Lowest Tire Price, Period and great low prices on Custom Wheels, Alignments, Brakes, Batteries, Oil and Lube, Shocks & Struts, Windshield Repair and Replacement, and more. Visit and also join our online communities: BELLE TIRE CARES BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER


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Tires Rely on Shock and Strut Performance

It’s easy to notice if your tires have uneven or excessive tread wear, spot a tell-tale coolant leak under your car or hear that grinding sound that tells you your brake pads need replacement. Shocks and struts are different.

Like other important vehicle systems, they do wear out over time, but often so gradually you don’t even notice. They’re also more difficult to inspect. But, because they’re an important part of your car’s suspension system, your shocks and struts should be inspected for wear and tear at least twice a year. And, you can depend on your local Michigan or Ohio tire store to have ASE Certified Technicians with the training, tools and quality replacement shocks and struts from Tenneco to do the job right.

Suspension Basics
Most suspension systems have three primary components: coil springs, anti-sway bars and shocks or struts. Coil springs support most of the weight of the vehicle, maintain proper ride height and also help resist pitch and dip when you accelerate or stop. Anti-roll bars, sometimes called anti-sway bars, connect the left and right suspension systems to the frame and help resist sway or body roll during cornering.

A shock absorber, also called a damper, is an oil or gas filled tube that helps the coil springs and anti-roll-bars work more effectively by preventing unwanted motion in the suspension system. It converts kinetic energy created by the up and down motion of the tires into heat energy by forcing fluid or gas through a series of control valves inside itself. A strut is a single, self contained unit that integrates a shock absorber within a coil spring. In addition to absorbing road shock, noise and vibration, shocks or struts play an important role in keeping your tires firmly planted to the road every time you accelerate, stop, corner or hit a bump.

When is it Time for New Shocks and Struts?
Most vehicle owner manuals recommend frequent shock and strut inspection and replacement every 50,000 miles, depending on your personal driving habits. However, any of the following warning signs can tell you if your shocks and struts might need replacement.

  • Pitching or dipping – Coil springs can’t do it all. If you experience excessive pitching or dipping whenever you accelerate or stop, your shocks or struts may need replacement.
  • Body roll – Anti-roll or sway bars also can’t do it all. If you experience excessive body roll as you go around corners, it’s time to check your shocks or struts.
  • Tire bounce or hop – If your tires bounce, hop or lose contact with the road after you hit a bump, it’s a sign your shocks or struts may need replacement.
  • Fluid leaks – As shocks or struts wear, the seals that contain the fluid or gas inside them can begin to leak. Streaks of fluid that look like tears on the outside of the shock or strut tube are a sure sign of a fluid leak.
  • Excessive tire wear – Cupping is a type of excessive tire wear associated with worn out shocks or struts. If you see a diagonal wear pattern across the tread of a tire, worn-out shocks or struts may be the problem.

Why spend your time bouncing through even minor bumps in the road, swaying through corners and replacing your tires more frequently then you should? Visit your local Ohio or Michigan tire store and have an ASE Certified Technician inspect and replace your shocks or struts if necessary. You’ll not only enjoy a smoother more comfortable ride, you’ll also maximize the performance and tread life of your tires.

Belle Tire is prepared to apply its expertise and support to provide consumers with discount tires, more auto care offerings and the best customer service possible. People have trusted Belle Tire for the best value since 1922. Now Belle Tire is working even harder to bring you the best tire price, period! And get you Out-The-Door with more value, services and protection the other stores can’t offer at any price! To learn more about Belle Tire, please visit

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