Driving on bald tires is dangerous for you and anyone in your vehicle. The lack of tread leaves you vulnerable to accidents and blowouts. Knowing what to look for and avoiding bald tires will save your loved ones and other drivers.
Here we will learn why tires go bald, the signs of a balding tire, what causes tires to go bald, and how long you can drive on a bald tire.
How Long Can You Drive on Bald Tires?
The truth is that driving on a bald tire is never a good idea because compromises the safety of you and your passengers and other drivers. Bald tires have no traction on the road, leaving you vulnerable to dangerous situations.
Tires are required to have 3/32 or more tread at all times.
Common reasons tires go bald
Neglected tire and vehicle maintenance
Poor tire maintenance increases the wear and tear on your tires, causing you more money in repairing or buying new tires. Poorly maintained tires are at risk of becoming unbalanced, improperly inflated, and increasing the chances of a tire becoming poorly aligned. Any of these will bald your tires over time.
Underinflated and overinflated tires
All the weight in the vehicle rides on your tires. Tires that are not at the recommended pressure are more likely to be overinflated or underinflated. Tires are designed to have the recommended PSI to maintain traction on the roads in all weather.
Underinflated tires can become weak in the sidewalls and lose their tread. In comparison, overinflated tires are at risk of bursting while driving (blowout.)
Unbalanced and unaligned tires
Tires are balanced by adding weight to each tire in specific places on the tire’s rim. It is generally done by machine, but some mechanics still do this manually. Balancing the tires helps to keep the wear on the tires even. Uneven wear on a tire translates into vibrating tires when you drive.
Proper tire alignment ensures good tire traction, so the tread wears more evenly, and the car remains easy to handle while you are driving. However, when the tires are out of alignment, you can see the wearing on the tires when you check, on the inside or outside of the tires from the alignment being off. Worse, the car pulls to the right or the left, depending on the tire that has the faulty alignment.
Signs your tires are bald
Wobbling or a shimmy in your tire (s) means one or several tires are worn and possibly out of alignment. When you have a bald tire, it throws off balance of the other tires and makes them bald over time. The wobbling or shaking you feel is a result of that.
Humming tires tell you there is a lack of tread on the road. Any tread less than 2/32 is considered bald and is dangerous to drive on. Less tread means you have less road traction as you are driving.
Vibrating tires result from uneven tire wear and balding, tread separation of tires, or tires out of round (caused by bulges in the tire’s sidewalls or flat spots on the tires.) As you drive it will feel as if you are hitting tiny speed bumps.
What Are the Dangers of Driving on Bald Tires?
Poor control of your car
Bald tires hinder your ability to steer the car, especially when braking. Bald tires can cause the vehicle to pull to one side and slide on the road as you try to stop. This is very noticeable when you brake while driving fast.
Air pressure is low
Loss of air in the tires can result from underinflated tires. The low air pressure causes your car to skid if you try to stop suddenly even if the roads are dry.
Treads push the water from beneath your tires as you drive. When the tires are bald, they skid or hydroplane on the water as you drive. This is a major cause of accidents and car repairs, in wet and snowy weather.
Treads keep the tires cool by releasing the heat driving creates as your tires ride on the road. When the tread is gone, the tires stay hot and can explode or blowout from the heat. This same heat causes truckers to loss the caps on their recapped (treaded) tires.
Poor traction in bad weather
As we talked about above, treads pull the water from under the tire. It also kicks out the snow. If you purchase a snow tire, you can see the tread is deeper to ensure the snow escapes.
Tires that shoot the water and snow behind them as they drive have good tread. The tread is ridding the road of the water and snow that causes hydroplaning. When your tire is bald, it rides on the rain and snow.
Bald tires are prone to punctures, tears, and slices. Any of these can cause a blowout causing you to lose control of the vehicle.
How to Prevent Balding From Happening?
Use of tools
Using a tire gauge to check your tire pressure once a week will keep your tires at the at the proper PSI. If you need air, reinflate the tire to the recommended PSI.
If the tires are overinflated, use the blunt end of the tire gauge to let a small amount of air out at a time until your tire is at the recommended PSI. If the car is not driving smoothly, have the tires checked to ensure they are adequately balanced.
Use a depth tread gauge to check the tread depth. Put the gauge between the tread and measure to ensure you have 3/32 of tread on each tire.
Both can be done in less than ten minutes and could save your life.
Keep checking the condition of the tire
Look over your tires for misalignment. Are there wear spots on one tire that you don’t have on another? Are the tires angled slightly? Do you see any bubbling on the tire or its sidewalls? Are there flat spots?
None of these are normal. So, if you see one of them you should head over to a tire center and have it checked out. The sooner you have it checked, the cheaper a needed repair could be.
Always check the tread
Tire treads should be checked monthly or every 1000 miles. An easy way to check the tread is to use a penny. Push the penny to the bottom of the tread with Lincoln’s head facing down. Tread should reach Lincoln’s hair but you should not see his whole face. If you can see more of face than his hair, your tread is less than the required 3/32 tread and needs replacing.
Use the wear bars
Tires come with a built-in indicator that the tread is worn. Wear bars run from side to side on the tire across the tread base. They are about as wide as a pen and you can see them as the tread wears down. When you see them, the tread is worn enough that the tire needs replacing.
Replace the tire
Once you have checked the tire and its tread and know the tire is bald, you have no choice but to change it. It is foolish to have an accident instead of changing a tire.
1. How soon should I replace bad tires?
Ans. As soon as you notice the tire is bald, you should take steps to have the tire replaced and have the rest of your tires checked.
2. Is it safe to buy used tires?
Ans. Used tires are safe as long as they have the 3/32” of tread left. If you are buying used tires, be sure to inspect them well, so you are not buying someone else’s problem.
3. Why do all-wheel-drive (AWD) tires wear out faster?
Ans. Usually, the front AWD tires wear out the quickest because they are the tires that do the majority of the braking and the steering. Tire maintenance on all-wheel-drive tires is essential to their longevity and your safety.