It’s National Tire Safety Week. Wondering when to retire your tires? We answer all those questions you’re too embarrassed to ask your mechanic.

high angle view of a young man checking the air pressure of a car tire

Most people are wary when they are given a suggestion to replace their tires, and rightly so—many drivers have been scammed in the past and bought tires prematurely. Here are three tips to spare you time, money and a drive to the dealership.

Don’t go bald. Pomp Tire technician Andrew Koepp offers sensible tips, like checking your tires before they go bald. “Basically, when they’re bald, when they’re getting down there, you’re going to want to replace them , with the winter and the rain that we get. There’s hydroplaning and there’s ice,” said Koepp. Make sure to look at your tires regularly, perhaps when filling up your gas tank.

Read between the treads. Examine a tire just as well as a mechanic by getting on your knees and looking at fine details “Between the tread, there’s a little rubber bar. Once it gets down to that point, it kind of levels out with that bar and you going to know you need to replace it then. Or you can get a depth gage, check it with the tool and if it’s at 3:30 seconds or lower you’re going to need to replace it.” said Koepp. You can also check your tires by using the “penny test”. “The penny test is a simple, yet effective, way to check tire tread. If you see Lincoln’s head above the tread, you are ready for new tires,” said Rich White, Car Care Council Executive Director.  Dig into your pocket, and put that lonely penny to good use.

Keep the light on. Many newer vehicles have automated signals that alert drivers when their tire pressure is low, and when they need check the alignment.  Make an appointment with your car dealership every three months or 30,000 miles to keep yourself safe and your payments low.

What other tire tips do you recommend?