Treading lightly: The Tire Guide

Treading lightly: The Tire Guide

Tires: An intricately designed web of rubber, fabric and wire, available in a multitude of sizes and styles, used daily as the main point of consistent contact keeping your vehicle on the road. Healthy tire life is essential to keeping your vehicle steady on the road through any weather and terrain.

For that reason, it is highly recommended to know what it is you need tire-wise, what to look out for and how to keep them in good health for your safety.

“Tires 101”

Beyond Just a Penny
The age-old easy way to check your tire depth is with a penny. Place the beloved President Lincoln head-first into your tire tread. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it is time to replace your tires.

Now, this particular trick doesn’t apply to all tires, for instance, a racing slick has no tread, while off-road tires may have deeper tread than your typical everyday or all-weather tires. Lower tread or rubber on some of these specialty tires would also effect the performance of the vehicle, just the tread would be measured a little differently.

Depths are typically measured in 32nds of an inch (with the top of Lincoln’s head indicating 2/32nds of depth). On your GM Multi-Point Vehicle Inspection (MPVI) tread depths are measured and range from 1/32 to 12/32, with 12/32 or more being the ideal depth. 

What you’ll see on your MPVI about depth sizes (measured 1/32 and above)

8/32 + Depth are indicative of fairly new tires and in prime condition.
4/32 – 7/32  Depth indicate some wear, lower numbers should start considering replacing tires.
1/32 – 3/32 Depth is cause for concern with little-to-no tread left on the tire. New are tires needed.

Low tread can be dangerous as the tread is designed to help move and displace water, mud, etc. to help you move (and stay on) the road. They are notorious for hydroplaning in wet conditions, creating difficulties driving steady in icy and snowy conditions, and not having enough traction to stop safely in adverse situations. 

Tire Pressure
Tires are integral to the design of a vehicle and are selected for a variety of reasons from certain treads for different driving environments, to also include sizes and weight capabilities as well. With that in mind, any vehicle you drive may have differing or unique tire pressures for specific usage, especially concerning vehicle load handling and the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW).

With that being said, your vehicle’s tires have a recommended amount of air measured in PSI (pounds per square inch), critical to keeping your tires healthy and working as efficiently as possible. You can find those air pressures on the sill of your door (usually driver’s) or consult your local Chevrolet Certified Service Technician.

Heavy loads when trailering or hauling may need more air than suggested. Weather also plays a part in changing tire pressure as the hot summer heat (like now) expands the movement of air molecules, creating more pressure in the tire. Your bitter cold winters slow down air particles causing lower air pressures. For that reason, getting your air pressure checked in the Spring/Summer as the weather warms up here in the mitten, as well as in the late Fall/Winter to adjust tire pressures to proper air pressures for the weather changes, as well as adjusting air pressures for appropriate loads.

Note that there is such a thing as under-inflating and over-inflating tires. Both cause uneven wear due to uneven, inappropriate contact with the road and will lend to needing replacements before necessary. 

The Patch System
Everyone has run into the unfortunate situation of finding a surprise in their tire from the inevitable leak that follows. Common culprits include your typical nails and screws from construction galore.  

Not all tires are patchable when the inevitable happens. Patchable tires will most likely have a hole in the tread area, but if the hole is too big (for example), the tire may need to be replaced. Unpatchable tires include objects that have compromised the sidewall, which due to the structure of the tire, is deemed unsafe to patch. 

The Danger Zone
Other things like bulges on your tire (typically found on the sidewall and looks like someone pushed something from the inside of the tire), are not patchable or repairable. If you find one of these on your tires, it’s imperative to have the tire replaced as this bulge can lead to a blow-out and absolutely destroy the tire, with and added high risk of damaging other important components like rims, suspension, axles, etc. (depending on where you are at and how quickly you are traveling when it happens).

Take note of any cracking on your tires as well. Rubber does have an expiration date, and with time will begin to crack, especially when that vehicle is not stored properly and/or isn’t driven for long periods of time, which can also lead to cases of dry-rot. As the rubber dries out creating these cracks and rotting, the integrity and stability of the tire is lost and can lead to a flat tire or a tire blow-out on the road at the most unexpected moment.

In any case, your certified service technicians and service advisor can help direct you on the most appropriate action to take with your tires if any of these tire conditions are discovered on your vehicle.

What’s That In Your Tire?
We took some time to ask our technicians about the oddest things they have found stuck in a tire. Take a look and let us know what your favorite is or if you have found anything wackier.

  • Scissors
  • Toenail clippers
  • Ratchet
  • Pliers
  • 12-inch garden spike
  • Garden shears
  • Screwdriver
  • Railroad ties (in a variety of sizes)
  • Cornstalk
  • Key
  • Magnet
  • Toothpick
  • Unidentified animal bone
  • Brake pad
This is just a small sample of items our techs have collected from tires over time. Yes, that is a brake pad.

Choose your [tire] adventure
There’s a flavor for nearly every type of road you might want to conquer on your drives or can accessorize to complete the look of your vehicle. Maybe it’s time for new tires and you’d like to seek some other choices. Some styles you might recognize:

  • Slicks
  • Run Flats
  • Track/Competition
  • Off-Road
  • All-Terrain
  • Summer
  • Snow or Winter
  • All-Season
  • Sport
  • Performance
  • Touring

Always consult your service department or tire expert for the appropriate tires to use on your vehicle. 


“For the Miles Ahead” is the DeNooyer Chevrolet blog series dedicated to demystifying automotive maintenance and service needs for the friends, family and customers of DeNooyer, twice a month. If you have a question about service maintenance or car-related troubles, write to Motor Maven at MotorMaven@denooyer.com, and it could be included in the next publishing of “Ask Motor Maven,” or featured for our next article. “Ask MM” will publish on August 21.

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