Get a grip on buying, preserving tires

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 5, 2015

As the seasons go round and round, so do a vehicle’s tires. But in order to keep traction on the roads, drivers should monitor their tires’ condition and buy quality ones when it’s time to change them, according to local auto repair businesses.

Andrew McLaughlin, manager and service adviser at Mac’s Tire & Auto Repair in Center Line, said motorists should buy tires on an as-need basis, but he added that it’s a good idea to consider a purchase before the winter begins. 

He said one way to measure whether new tires are needed is to take a penny or nickel to judge the tread depth.

“We measure tread depth in millimeters,” he said. “Anything below 3 mm of tread, you need new tires. A brand new tire should come with treads of about 12 mm.”

McLaughlin said quality and price are the biggest two factors that tire shoppers consider. He said that while drivers may save some money upfront on low-budget tires, those products tend to break down faster. 

“(It) doesn’t give them what they need in the winter, especially the Michigan winters,” he said. “If you have cheap tires, you’re going to be slipping and sliding. You’ve got to be able to stop.” 

He said different tire types feature different tread patterns with different grip styles. But tires specifically suited for winter driving in snowy and slick conditions might suffer damage if they’re driven in warmer weather, he explained.

“I see a lot of people who ride their winter tires into the summer, and that’s not too good for the tires,” he said.

McLaughlin said an all-season tire provides the right balance between summer performance and winter traction for Michigan driving, and he said he personally favors the quality of American-made tires over Chinese ones. 

Mark Sykes, owner of Showcase Auto Repair in Sterling Heights, recommended a tread depth of greater than 4/32 of an inch. He also said drivers should keep an eye on tire dry rot or cracking on the outside edges. Another warning sign is feeling a vibration while driving, he said. 

In order to keep tires in good condition, he urged drivers to keep tires inflated at their proper levels and to make sure they are periodically rotated once every 7,500 to 10,000 miles. He also recommended getting the vehicle’s wheels realigned periodically. 

“With our roads, you should definitely get your alignment done or checked at least once a year unless, when you’re driving, the steering wheel seems to be off-centered,” he said. “Then you would get it checked immediately at that point.”

Find out more about Mac’s Tire & Auto Repair in Center Line by visiting or by calling (888) 323-6938. Find out more about Showcase Auto Repair in Sterling Heights by visiting or by calling (586) 979-6450.