Since tires move your car where you want to go and they’re the only thing between you and the road, it’s a good idea to pay careful attention to their condition. Worn tires pose a more serious risk than many drivers realize.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 11,000 tire-related crashes occur each year. A NHTSA’s Crash Causation Survey found that one out of 11 crashes (9 percent) were tire-related accidents.

 

Risks of driving on worn tires

1. Lack of traction. Worn tires lack sufficient tread to do a good job of gripping the road. This is especially a problem when conditions are snowy, icy, or wet.

2. Delayed stopping. When your tires are worn, it’s more likely that your car will take longer to stop. This is especially a problem in wet weather. In high-traffic conditions, even a few seconds delay in stopping can lead to an accident.

3. Risk of blowouts. Tires with thin treads are more likely to experience a blowout, which can be an unnerving experience.

4. Loss of air pressure. Low-tread tires tend to lose air faster than tires with good tread. When air pressure is low, the underinflated tires have difficulty gripping the road, even when it’s dry. This makes steering harder and braking may be delayed.

5. Excess heat buildup. When your tires run across the road, this creates friction that leads to heat buildup—especially in warm weather. Tire tread is designed to help cool down the tires, because it allows for air circulation.

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