Do you know when it’s time to buy new tires? In 2011, Consumer Reports reported that 17% of American’s were delaying routine maintenance items like tires and brake pads. It’s speculated that millions of Americans are driving around in cars equipped with expired, unsafe tires. Don’t become a statistic, learn how to read tire tread and take back control of your safety.

In order to know if it’s time for new tires, you’ll need to check your tire tread. Most tire manufacturers build their tires using built-in tread wear indicators, also known as “wear bars.” A wear bar is a slender strip of rubber that appears when tire tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch. As soon as the wear bar is visible, it’s time to replace the tire. Make sure to test all 4 tires, and if tires appear to have uneven wear, consult a tire professional.

If the tire is lacking wear bars, or you’re unsure, perform a test by placing a penny into the tread groove, if the tire tread covers Lincoln’s head, the tires are fine, but if his entire head is visible, it’s time for new tires. Proper tire tread helps prevent skidding and hydroplaning.