Only the Tire’s Shadow Knows How Long You Have

Some call it a strange practice. We rely upon a groundhog’s shadow to determine if the winter-shivers will continue an additional 6 weeks. Spring is postponed whether we like it or not. The weather in Southern California hasn’t lent itself to routine patterns in the last few years. To be guided by the shadows seems a little naïve. Yet somehow we allow ourselves to put a dot in the distance permitting us to look forward.

When it comes to car care the casting of shadows helps us keep on top of our car’s needs. Specifically, the tread on our tires is an area where a large shadow means we have more time. Yes, more time for mileage spent traveling to destinations unknown. An optimistic outlook don’t you think? There’s that dot in the distance we can feel good about.

The following tips provide the particulars about tire wear:

1. Watch for a shadow of less than 50%. You are safe and comfortable driving on a tire that has 100% to 50% of its tread. Once the tread falls below that halfway mark the tire loses its ability to hold on to the road is small increments.

2. Never let your tread fall below 4/32 of an inch. I know what you’re saying, what does that look like on a ruler? In edible terms it’s about as thick as a slice of cheese and deli meat combined. Based on that, you are on borrowed time, and might be hungry now.

3. An uneven wear pattern will cast a different shadow. Rotating your tires every 5000 miles promotes an even wear distribution. Proper inflation of your tires according to the manufacture’s recommendations promotes it as well. If you notice a strange pattern developing on the surface of your tire take notice. Look for uneven wear on the outer portion of your tires, the inside, or down the center. These are problems caused by under-inflated tires, and over inflated tires. A surface with shadows that dip in an irregular pattern around the tire may indicate a problem with your struts, shocks or alignment.

4. If the wear bar is the same height as the tread you are out of time. Next stop is a blow-out. The wear bar runs the opposite direction as your tread. Many of us have never noticed it before. It is part of every tire and it is there to guide you. If you can’t immediately see it, run your hands between the tread of your tire to find it.

5. Watch for other shadows. We recommend that you visually inspect your car as much as possible. Be aware. Look for fluids pooling under your car. Many times it is something as harmless as your air conditioner’s run-off. Other times the shadows may be signs of a darker more sinister problem. Oil or coolant pooling under your car needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Seeing the shadow of a healthy tire tread means you’ve got plenty of places to go and people to see. We recommend that you come visit one of our 3 shops in Anaheim, Orange and Costa Mesa if your tread is severely worn. Your safety is important to us so if you think you can’t afford to make things right, we’ll work with you to find a solution that is financially feasible.

If the time has come to either have your tires evaluated or replaced, the team at Becker Tire is here to help. Please stop by, give us a call or visit to set up an appointment. Be careful out there. See you next time.

Written by Anne Kruse