Sometimes, it’s painfully obvious that it’s time to get new tires for your Volkswagen. A tire blowing out or driving over a nail or glass on the road are moments during which you know you are about to commit to purchasing new tires. But what are some of the not-so-obvious signs that indicate a need for new tires?
How to Know When You Need New Tires
The most common reason people need to get new tires for their car is normal wear and tear from everyday driving. If you look at your tires and see that the tread wear indicators (bars running across the tread of the tire) are excessively worn down (the minimum allowable tread depth on a tire is 1.6 mm (1/16 in) then it’s time to get new tires for your Volkswagen.
However, to ensure that your car is in the safest driving condition, you may want to replace your tires before they get at or below the minimum allowable tread depth. In rainy and snowy conditions, you will start to lose grip when the tread depth declines to even 3.2 mm (4/32 in). By having this added depth on your tires, it allows them to be able to push out or compress enough water or snow to keep them connected and well planted to the road. Because snow is an unavoidable force in Surrey, you should start thinking about replacing your tires when the tread depth reaches about 4.0 mm (5/32).
Your tires may also experience wear and tear from cuts, cracks, bulges, or blisters in the sidewall of the tires. The bulges and blisters are especially concerning because they could be a sign that the tire has weak spots making them vulnerable to a blowout.
If you notice excessive vibration when driving, it is likely a sign that your tires have become misaligned, unbalanced, or bent. Don’t ignore the vibration; have your vehicle serviced as soon as possible.
What to Know Before You Buy New Tires
The first thing you’ll want to know before purchasing new tires is what type of tire your car needs and what size. Every vehicle has a recommended tire designated by its manufacturer for both size and type. You can find these recommended sizes in your vehicle’s owners manual and commonly on a placard or sticker typically found along the edge of the drivers side door. If you’re still not sure what tires you need, we have a team of experts that will help make sure you get the correct tires for your car.
Auto Mechanic Tip: It’s not recommended that you put new tires on a car with misaligned wheels or bad shocks. The new tires will wear out more quickly— causing you to come back for a new set sooner than you need to—and you won’t get to enjoy the handling and safety benefits of your new tires.
If you’re looking into adding high performance or ultra high performance tires to your Volkswagen, you can expect to experience better handling at higher speeds than you did before with standard tires. However, high performance tires do not mean these tires last longer than others. High performance is only in reference to their handling capabilities, not their lifespan.
Once you have your new tires installed, allow for about 800 km (500mi) of break-in time to remove any residue hanging around from the manufacturing process. These residues can increase braking distance slightly or reduce ideal handling in their first few weeks.
Maintaining Your New Tires
As mentioned before, there a number of factors that impact the lifespan and durability of your tires, from your driving habits, weather conditions, and type of road your drive on, nothing extends the life of your tires more so than regular maintenance.
You can help increase the life of your tires by checking periodically for uneven wear. A monthly inspection of the exterior of the tires is a good way to discover small issues before they become more urgent (and more expensive). Also, be sure to pay attention to how your car handles in all types of weather conditions, and look for any abnormal vibrations you may feel through the steering wheel.
If there’s a raised portion of tread or sidewall on a tire, it could indicate that a tire belt within the tire has become separated. Or, if your car is pulling to one side of the road, it’s likely that you have an under inflated or damaged tire on the side the car is pulling toward.
Winter tires wear faster than all-season tires because the tread is specifically designed to bite into snow and ice, and the rubber is formulated to stay pliable at freezing temperatures. Don’t be misled by mud and snow designation found on the sidewalls of a tire—it only means that the tire has a relatively open tread pattern which allows them to perform better in those difficult conditions.
If the tires on your Volkswagen are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, we recommend coming in to see our tire experts at our service center in Surrey, BC for a thorough inspection.
Checking the Air Pressure on Your Tires
Regular checks of your tire air pressure should be essential tasks for every driver. The maximum air pressure for your tires is given either in Kilopascals (kPA) or pounds per square inch (PSI).
Auto Mechanic Tip: The maximum pressure listed on your tire usually exceeds the recommended air pressure from your manufacturer, which can found in your owner’s manual or information placard. Rely on your Volkswagen owner’s manual for the appropriate tire pressure for your car.
All tires will leak over time. This is unavoidable, but colder temperatures can expedite this effect. During your monthly check of air pressure, check your tires when they’re cold (not right after a trip), and remember to check the pressure of your spare tire as well. It’s not good enough to simply eyeball your tire pressure because you may not spot an underinflated tire, or you may even overinflate your tires (modern radial tires bulge slightly, even when fully inflated).
Driving with underinflated tires wears your tires more quickly, lowers fuel economy, and can also lead to a dangerous blowout or tread separation. An underinflated tire causes additional flex in the sidewall, building up excessive heat within the tire.
Scheduled Tire Services and Maintenance
To ensure that your tires are in top driving performance, you need to schedule time to bring in your car and have your tires inspected by an expert. Here at White Rock Volkswagen, our service and tire professionals can help your Volkswagen tires last longer with regular tire rotation, tire balancing, and wheel alignment.
According to manufacturing recommendations, you should rotate your tires every 8,000-11,000 km (5,000-7,000 mi). Your front and rear tires operate at different loads and perform different steering and braking functions. By having your tires regularly rotated you ensure that all four tires wear evenly and maintain maximum lifespan.
Similar to rotations, tire balancing helps make sure your tires wear evenly. Our technicians add small weights to your car’s wheels to limit and dampen any vibration of the tires and wheels as they turn. It’s recommended you rebalance whenever you notice an unusual vibration, or after a tire is removed from the wheel.
Wheel alignment keeps your wheels and tires perpendicular with to the road, allowing the tire to wear evenly. Over time however, your wheels may begin to tilt slightly inwards or outwards, making them wear unevenly and reducing your handling and control.
White Rock Volkswagen is Here for All Your Tire Services and Advice
Whether you need help picking a new tire or think it’s time for scheduled maintenance, White Rock Volkswagen is here to give you unbiased expert opinions, fast service, and unbeatable prices. Start by booking an appointment today!