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image of car driving on snowMost drivers are aware of the importance of maintaining proper tire inflation and keeping an eye on tread wear. What many drivers don't know is that tire rubber gets old and less elastic over time. This phenomenon is similar to what happens to old rubber bands; they lose their elasticity and easily break. If the tire gets too old, a blowout is very possible. Tires should be replaced after six years, regardless of how much tread is left on them.

The Problem of Oxidation

Oxygen reacts with many materials over time. A common form of this is the rust that forms on metal because of oxidation. Oxidation also happens to rubber, which causes it to stiffen and form cracks. An inflated tire oxidizes faster than an uninflated tire sitting on a shelf. This is because there is a higher concentration of oxygen in a pressurized tire.

High temperature will also accelerate the oxidation process. Tires used in the warmest states and tires that are chronically underinflated can see accelerated oxidation because of the high temperatures at which they operate.

The False Sense of Security When a Car Isn't Driven Much

People who do a lot of driving commonly replace their tires well before the rubber gets too old. People who do very little driving may have tires older than six years, yet still have good tread. If they aren't aware of the limited life span of tire rubber, they may be fooled into believing that their tires are safe.

The Problem When Tires Aren't Properly Rotated

Most of the tire wear on cars with front wheel drive occur on the front wheels. Some car owners replace the front wheels rather than rotate them with the rear wheels. If this practice continues beyond six years, then the rear wheels will have aged beyond six years. This means that the tires are at risk of failing on the road.

The Danger of the Forgotten Spare Tire

Many car owners rarely think about their spare tire until they need it. The trunk of a car gets very hot in the summer, which means the spare tire is aging even though it isn't seeing any use. Because of this, the six year rule of tire replacement also applies to the spare tire.

If your tires are six years old, or if the rubber has small cracks in the sidewall or in the tire grooves, they should be replaced. You should also beware of buying used tires. A good set of tires are important because they determine how well your car handles and brakes.

Learn more about caring for your car. Call McFarlin Insurance Agency at (410) 312-7800 for more information on Baltimore auto insurance.

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Columbia, MD 21046

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