If you spent a bundle to get some top-of-the-line, high performance tires, you’re probably pretty attached to them. But while checking regularly to make sure they're properly inflated, keeping your front end properly aligned and other routine maintenance can extend the life of your tires, eventually all tires wear out. Most tires have tread-wear indicators that appear when the tire treads are worn down to the legal limit. But you can also do a simple test by placing a penny into the groove. If you can see the top of Abe Lincoln’s head, it’s time to head to the tire store [source: TireRack.com].

But what should you do with your old tires? You could stick them in your backyard and make them into planters. You could dump them in an empty lot, if you want to be an irresponsible litterbug. You could heave them over the fence at night into your local landfill, which probably no longer takes them. Or you could burn them, if you don’t care about polluting the air with dangerous toxins.

We’re just teasing you, of course. If you’re a good citizen, you won’t do any of those things. You’ll dispose of your tires the responsible way, by recycling them.

Americans wear out about 290 million tires a year, and they recycle 233 million of them, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [source: EPA].

These days, it’s pretty easy to do. We’ll explain how it's done and what happens to your recycled tires on the next couple of pages.