I sent my mom some tips for maintaining her car. Mom has always been independent and still drives her car on short trips although she is approaching seventy years old. The acronym PART is a great guideline for easy inspection of tires and tread- anyone can follow the simple rules.
Several years ago, the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) ran a campaign encouraging drivers to monitor the condition of their tires. In this campaign, they invented the acronym PART to help people remember the 4 steps they recommend:
These steps should be done at least once a month and before any long trip.
Tread is the pattern of groves that surround the circumference of your tire.
As you drive, the tread wears down until it is used up. Under ideal conditions this will take 2 or 3 years. However, certain driving habits, less than perfect roads, weather, and mechanical defects can cause this wear to increase. Tires approved for sale in the USA have a treadwear rating stamped on the tire sidewall.
When the tire tread gets down to 2/32nds of an inch (slightly more than 2mm) the tire needs replacing.
Tire professionals use a special tool called a depth gauge to measure tire tread, but there are two other simple methods anyone can use.
The first method is built-in to most tires. These are wear bars- little bumps in the grooves of a tire. Placed at regular intervals around the circumference of the tire, these wear bars are exactly 2/32 of an inch in thickness. When the tread is level with the wear bar the tire needs replacing.
The second method involves using a US penny. Place the penny in a tire's groove with Lincoln's head entering the groove. As long as a part of the head is covered when the coin is fully inserted in the groove you're ok, but once the top of Lincoln's head is visible it's time to change that tire.
When you're checking the tire make sure you look around the complete circumference and for signs of uneven wear. Make sure there are no nails or other objects embedded in the tire. If you notice any, you need to consult a tire dealer immediately.
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