Experts offer tips on avoiding tire trouble

VIDEO: How to avoid tire trouble

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A nail, a pothole, or old age. Many things can cause a flat tire. Is it okay to repair it or does it need to be replaced?

Imagine that you're driving down the road and feel a vibration in the steering wheel, or your car starts to pull to one side. Either could be a sign of tire trouble.

Your tires are no longer safe when they're under 2/32s of tread. And you don't need anything special to check them.

"Stick a penny upside down in the top of your tire, and if you can see the top of Abe Lincoln's head, then your tire tread is way too low and you need to replace your tires," Angie's List founder Angie Hicks says.

If just one or two tires are worn down, you don't need to buy a whole new set, but only if the others are fairly new.

"If you have an all-wheel drive vehicle, if you replace one tire, there can't be more than 5/32 of tread difference between the other three," tire expert Chris Fox says. "If so, it can create problems with the differential, the drive-line system."

You should also rotate your tires every 5,000 to 6,000 miles for even wear and keep any tire warranties you may have valid.

The best way to maintain your tires is to do a periodic, just visual inspection of your tires," Hicks says. "If you see cracks on the sidewalls, it may be time to get them replaced. If you see a bulge in the side of your tire, you definitely want to get it replaced because you're likely going to have a blowout soon."

When buying new tires make sure they're really new: check the DOT number on the side wall, the last four digits. Those indicated the week and year the tire was made. Don't buy a tire that's more than a year old.

It's always best to replace all four tires at the same time if you can afford it, but it's okay to patch a punctured tire as long as the hole is less than a quarter-inch wide and located on the crown of the tire, not near the edge or sidewall.

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