Tires are one of the most critical components of your vehicle because they are responsible for maintaining grip and stability on the road, and one of the parts on your car that experiences wear and tear the fastest. However, many people overlook the importance of replacing their tires on time.
Driving on bald or worn-out tires can be dangerous and lead to costly repairs and even legal issues if you are involved in an accident.
In Louisiana, there are specific laws regarding tire safety that every driver should be aware of. Drivers have a duty to abide by these laws to ensure their safety and the safety of others on the road. This means that if you’re driving on bald tires, you could be held liable if you’re then involved in a crash. Stay safe and informed on Louisiana’s tire safety laws to protect yourself and those around you.
The lifespan of a tire largely depends on various factors, such as driving habits, weather conditions, and tire quality. On average, most tires last between 55,000 to 85,000 miles. However, this is just an estimate, and the actual lifespan of your tires may vary.
Driving on tires with a tread depth of less than 2⁄32-in. in Louisiana is illegal. A quick and easy way to measure this is using the “penny” test. Take a penn and place it in the tread of your tire with Lincoln’s head facing down. If Lincoln’s forehead is covered, you still have a safe amount of tread left. However, if all of Lincoln’s head is visible, the tread on your tires is less than 2/23-in. deep and your tires need to be replaced.
It is also important to replace your tires if they are more than six years old, regardless of the amount of tread left. This is because the rubber compounds used in tires tend to degrade over time, even if they are not being driven on frequently. This could make the tire more likely to experience a blowout and cause you to crash.
You can check the tire’s manufacture date embossed on the inside of the tire to learn how old it is. It is the last four digits of the Department of Transportation (DOT) code. The first two numbers represent the week, and the last two numbers are the year.
For all-wheel drive vehicles, you should replace all four tires at once. This is because the new tires will have more grip than your worn-out tires, and mixing new and old tires can affect the stability and handling of your vehicle, making a car crash more likely. Most AWD vehicle owners’ manuals provide guidance on how to avoid damaging the drivetrain when replacing tires.
If you own a two-wheel drive vehicle, you can replace one tire at a time, depending on how worn it is. For example, if your tires have less than 30% wear, you can typically replace one tire and put the new one on the rear axle. However, if the tires are 40% to 50% worn, you should replace them in pairs and put them on the rear axles. If they are 70% or more worn, replace all four tires.
Several signs can indicate that it’s time for you to replace your tires. If you notice any of the following signs when driving on your tires, have them checked by a mechanic or replace them as soon as possible. Not maintaining safe tires on your car can increase your risk of injury, crash, and liability.
- Low tread depth: If the tread is worn down to 2⁄32-in. or less, it’s time for new tires. Even with half-tread depths of 5⁄32-in., you may experience a noticeable loss in your ability to brake in wet conditions and an increased chance of hydroplaning, so aim for 6⁄32-in. or more.
- Visible wear bars: These are small “bars” that run perpendicular to the tread and indicate when the tread has worn down to a dangerous level. Get new tires if you see these raised bumps peeking through the tread pattern.
- Cracks or bulges in the sidewall: These can be caused by age, improper inflation, or hitting a pothole or curb. Any swelling or cracks indicate you need new tires. Don’t drive on tires with bulges, as they could blowout at any time and cause you to crash.
- Vibration or shaking while driving: This can indicate that the tires are out of balance. Have a mechanic inspect your tires for a realignment or replacement.
- Uneven wear patterns: this can be caused by several factors, including misalignment, improper inflation, or worn suspension components. If one side of your tire is more worn than the other, speak with a mechanic to determine what could be causing the problem.
- Poor handling or reduced traction: If your car doesn’t handle as well as it used to or has trouble stopping on wet roads, it could be a sign that the tires are worn out.
- Excessive road noise: If your tires are making more noise than usual, it could be a sign that the tread is worn or that the tires are out of balance.
It is vital to take tire safety seriously to protect your vehicle, yourself, and other drivers on the road. If you have been involved in an accident due to worn-out tires, seek legal advice to protect your rights and understand your legal options.
Disclaimer: This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.
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