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Ask a Trooper: How to know your tires are safe

Question: How do you determine if your tires are unsafe? Answer: Tire talk is important for anytime of the year. But now as we get into the winter and snow season, it's an important time to double check the only thing keeping you on the highway. ...

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Keep a regular eye on your tires. Check the tire pressure often. A tire can be as much as 50 percent under inflated before it is visibly noticeable. So take a pressure gauge to each tire and know what your tire pressure should be at. Illustration.

Question: How do you determine if your tires are unsafe?

Answer: Tire talk is important for anytime of the year. But now as we get into the winter and snow season, it's an important time to double check the only thing keeping you on the highway. According to Minnesota State Statute 169.723 a tire shall be considered unsafe if it has:

• Any part of the ply or cord exposed.

• Any bump, bulge or separation.

• A tread design depth of less than 2/32 (1/16) of an inch measured in the tread groove nearest the center of the tire at three locations equally spaced around the circumference of the tire, exclusive of tie bars or for those tires with tread wear indicators.

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• Been worn to the level of the treadwear indicators in any two tread grooves at three locations.

• A marking "not for highway use," or "for racing purposes only," or "unsafe for highway use."

• Tread or sidewall cracks, cuts or snags deep enough to expose the body cords

My best advice is to keep a regular eye on your tires. Check the tire pressure often. A tire can be as much as 50 percent under inflated before it is visibly noticeable. So take a pressure gauge to each tire and know what your tire pressure should be at. Routine maintenance is good insurance: rotate and balance according to your vehicle owner's manual. Alignments are important also. Some signs that you might need an alignment: your car pulls or drifts away from a straight line, you have rapid or uneven tire wear, the spokes of your steering wheel are off to one side while driving on a straight and level road.

Taking a few seconds to walk around your vehicle before each time you get in to go anywhere can pay off. I know it has for me. Not only in my personal car but my squad car as well. Speaking from personal and professional experience, the snow tires I run at this time of the year have made all the difference in my traveling throughout some of the deepest snow and treacherous conditions. I would not want to be without them.

For questions concerning traffic related laws in Minnesota, send your questions to: To Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN, 55811. Or reach me at neil.dickenson@state.mn.us .

Related Topics: ASK A TROOPERASK A TROOPER
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