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Check Your Tires

One way to see if you need new tires is to perform the "penny test."

©iStockphoto/herreid

You may not think too much about your tires when you're driving around, but when you have a problem, their condition suddenly becomes very important. Buying new tires can be a significant expense, but your safety is well worth it. Balding tires could cause you to skid in bad weather and have an accident, and changing a flat tire in a blinding snowstorm isn't a fun prospect, either.

First, check your tire's tread. The easiest way to do this is to use the "penny test." Grab a penny between your first finger and thumb at the opposite end of Lincoln's head. Then, choose a point on a tire where the tread is the lowest, and insert the penny into a groove on the tread. If the head is covered up by the tread, then you're good to go. But if you can see above Lincoln's head, then it's time to buy new tires. It's actually illegal in some states to drive with tires that have treads at less than 2/32 of an inch. This is the distance from the top of Lincoln's head to the rim of a penny.

Next, do a visual inspection of your car's tires -- you might notice a nail head before it causes a flat. You should also check your tire pressure to make sure that they're inflated to the recommended level. This can typically be found on the inside of your car's doors. Get your tires rotated according to your car's maintenance schedule. If you need new tires, be sure to buy ones that are right for your car.

You might need to go beyond just getting new tires to ensure that you're safe when driving on snowy, icy roads. Learn about tire chains next.

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