Many people ask this question and the answer is not as simple as one may think. Replacing your tires according to Government ratings is when your tires have worn down to the wear indicators. What are tire wear indicators you ask? Tire wear indicators are small little bumps in between the tread of the tire used to as a indicator of tire life. However there is more involved then just wear indicators. If you severely drive your vehicle an issue you may want to check for is tire dry rot. This is when a tire dries out an begin to crack do to age or not being used. We see this many times in trailers. When inspecting your tires look for cracks in the tires. A rule of thumb is if you can stick the head of a dime in any crack then the tires are no good. Another thing to look for is irregular tire wear. Irregular tire wear is typically high spots and low spots on the tires. This is most often caused by the vehicle being out of alignment. It is always good to have your alignment checked at least once a year. If you live in rougher terrain where there are pot holes etc. you may want to do it more often. When it comes to alignment many people ask can I keep running the tires after I have my car aligned. The answer is yes as long as the tires have not been worn down to the tire wear indicators, however be advised sometimes once you get an alignment your car may hum or ride rough do to the wear, it will be up to you if you can deal with it or not.
Snow tires or Winter tires are another issue, Many people do not realize that once the winter tires get past the 50% or so life they are no longer considered snow tires. The tread has worn down to far and the transaction is not there. It depends where you live on rather you can still use them or not. I know some people that wear the remaining tread out during the summer. Keep in mind that The Snow tire compound is much different so snow tires wear quickly in the summer time.
When going on a trip another thing you should check for is any punctures or holes. Remember a nail can be in your tire and it may not leak. This can cause you trouble down the road. Many times nails in tires do not leak right away but after driving for some time they work into the tire more or the nail hole gets bigger. It is best to have them fixed when you spot them. When it comes to nails as long as they are small enough enough plugs are fine, when it comes to bigger nails an internal tire patch is often needed. Remember never let anyone patch or plug a tire sidewall, this is completely unsafe and should never be done.
In closing I want to say take the time every couple of weeks or absolutely before a trip to inspect your tires. You can also use a spray bottle mixed with dish soap and water to spray down your tires to look for leaks, while your are at it spray your valve stem as well. Look for leaks around the stem as well is spray the core to make sure that is not leaking. Have a safe drive.
More information on tires can be found on our web site http://www.lawheelsdirect.com