Car maintenance is something we rarely think about until something goes wrong. Be honest: when was the last time you checked the tread on your tires? Tires are among the most important automobile safety features, yet motorists often forget about them. Without enough tread or air, your car may begin to lose traction with the road, upping the odds of a serious accident.
What Causes Tires to Go Bald?
Tire tread wears down naturally over time. With each drive you take in your car, the tread of your tires wears down slightly. Drive too long with worn-down tread, and tires may become bald. What exactly constitutes a bald tire? Technically, any tire with at least one groove whose tread depth reaches 2/32 of an inch is considered bald. A survey conducted by the Rubber Manufacturers Association found that 12 percent of drivers in the U.S. reported at least one bald tire.
Here are a few things that may cause tires to wear down quickly:
- Driving on over or underinflated tires
- Failing to have tires balanced, preventing them from vibrating at high speed
- Failing to check that the vehicle’s suspension is aligned, causing tires to roll at an angle
- Aggressive driving on corners and heavy braking
- Overloading the vehicle with additional weight on the tires
Even if you avoid these, your tires will inevitably lose tread over time. Regular inspections and maintenance can help ensure the smoothest and safest ride possible.
Checking Tire Treads
It doesn’t take an expert to spot a bald tire. Most new tires come with indicator bars, or parallel wear bars. If the tread is flush with wear bars, you’ll know you’ve got a bald tire. Even if your tires don’t feature these bars, you can tell whether the tread has worn down by inspecting the tire yourself. Check the depth of the tire tread with a tread depth gauge, available at auto parts stores.
The penny test is another tried and true method of inspecting tire tread. Stick an upside-down penny into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace the tire. As you perform this test, you may notice that some tread sections are deeper than 2/32nds of an inch. If any part of the tire fails the test, the tire needs replacing.
Why are Bald Tires Dangerous?
Tire tread provides the traction necessary for vehicles to travel safely on the road. When tires lose that tread, blowouts become more likely. Since increased heat is created through friction between the tires and the road, the tire material weakens even further. Blowouts from punctures are more likely, too. The tread provides traction on the road and protects the integrity of the tire. With no tread, that protection is lost.
Hydroplaning is also more likely with bald tires. The lack of tread makes it difficult for tires to grip wet roads and may cause the vehicle to slide on gravel or require additional stopping distance upon braking.
Accidents Caused by Bald Tires
Bald tires frequently contribute to rear-end collisions. No vehicle stops the instant the driver brakes. Instead, braking is a process – the vehicle will always travel a distance before the brakes can come to a complete stop. Heavier vehicles like tractor trailers have a longer stopping distance than the average compact car. A vehicle’s grip on the road always plays a role in the stopping distance. If a vehicle with bald tires follows another car too closely, it will be hard for the driver of the following vehicle to stop completely and avoid a collision.
Rollover accidents are also frequently caused by bald tires. A sudden tire blowout can cause a vehicle to pull sharply to the left or right. As the motorist struggles to regain control, over corrections may happen, causing the car to roll over. T-bone accidents and head-on collisions are likely to involve vehicles with bald tires.
Personal Injury Attorneys in Aurora & Chicago, IL
If you were hurt in an accident involving bald tires, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to fight for your right to compensation. Contact us today at 630-898-7800 to schedule your free consultation.