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Worn tires more common these days

News editor

Rod Koons has seen a lot of cars with a lot of miles roll into the bays at Rod’s Tire and Service in Hillsboro.

“I don’t know the last time I wrote mileage down on one that was under 100,000 miles,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of them over 200,000.”

Whatever the mileage, most have tires worn past the 2/32 inch minimum tread depth.

“You often wonder ‘Wow, how did they make it this far,’” Koons said. “I marvel sometimes at ones that have four tires on them that there’s no resemblance of tread on them at all; they’re bald as bald can be. How did they make it this far?”

People usually come in when they have a problem, typically a puncture and low air pressure, Koons said. Blowouts are rare.

“The days of a tire just failing out of the blue, it just doesn’t happen,” he said. “The product is built too good.”

With less need for maintenance for cars and tires, consumers can become complacent and neglect how worn tires are.

“I think people forget that when you’re driving down the highway, that’s the one thing you’ve got between you and the road,” Koons said. “That’s the one thing that’s keeping you on the road. You get one chance to do it right.”

Koons sells more entry-level and used tires than he used to; his used tire rack is often empty. Many tires are too worn to be resold, but those that can be go fast.

Many buy one tire at a time, or buy used, because more people are living paycheck to paycheck, Koons said. Paying for a set of four premium tires isn’t in their budgets.

“We don’t like to sell that stuff,” he said. “It doesn’t last as long, it doesn’t wear as well, people aren’t as satisfied. But if we don’t sell them, someone will. It’s just more affordable.”

A dealer usually doesn’t know history of used tires, he said. Industry standards set four to five years as the useable life of a tire; used tires could be older.

Still, if tires have acceptable tread depth and no defects, they will go on the rack, where they won’t sit for long.

Tires often wear unevenly because of alignment or suspension problems, Koons said. A driver who glances at his or her tires might see treads that look good on outside edges, while hidden inside edges could be worn.

Koons recommends people get down “on your hands and knees” once a month to look at tires from the front and back. Uneven wear patterns are more evident that way.

Tires have built-in wear indicators, raised bars in the tread across the width of the tire. When one or more of those bars shows as a straight line across the tread, the tire should be replaced.

If drivers regularly check pressure and do monthly inspections, they’ll ensure a safe ride, Koons said.

“You are responsible for your safety, and the safety of others on the road,” he said.

Last modified July 23, 2015

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