Who's Got Your Number?

Recently while visiting a Discount Tires store, I noticed this huge display titled "Know Your Numbers." Underneath this title was the words, Life Of A Tire. The intended message of this display was to inform the consumer that if any tread depth on your tire measures 4/32" or less, then it is their recommendation to replace such tire. Mine measured 5/32" (well within their reference range for a safe tire tread depth) but the technician still thought I should replace my tires. He made it clear that I currently have a greater chance of slipping off the road and crashing.

I certainly respect the importance of having good tires and did not want to completely dismiss his feedback. But when I look at my tires they look great. No cracks or uneven wearing of the tread, and after applying ArmorAll, they will still display a shiny dark black sheen. They actually look almost brand new. Therefore, I found myself mistrusting the technicians intention. But what do I really know about tires? I'm not a tire professional and was at an obvious disadvantage on making an informed choice. I respectfully thanked him for his concern and declined his kind offer.

Now I'm 1/32" away from a future large purchase. So where did this 4/32" cut off for tire death come from? The Discount Tires display had a footnote saying this number came from a report provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. I scoured their website and could not find that report. But I did find within their discussion on tire tread-wear, their recommendation to use a 2/32" cut off as to when a tire should be replaced. They also state that you can check your tread by placing a penny in the tread with Lincoln's head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, replace your tires. That, by the way measures 2/32 of an inch.

So Discount Tires, and probably most tire retailers have decided to tighten their reference range for determining when to recommend to their customer a new purchase. Just think of how many more tires are recommended to be replaced because of a 2/32" change in that reference range? How many more statin drugs are prescribed just by lowering the recommended cholesterol or LDL ranges? Are tire retailers being disingenuous? Maybe not if you decide that a new set of tires would be safer. But how much safer? Enough to justify spending the money now? Certainly a grey area. Well, what kind of buyer are you?

Do you wait until it is mandatory, does prevention appeal to you, or do you embrace wellness? When it's mandatory, it is usually also a crisis situation. This is where AAA is called for your auto and an ambulance for your body. Don't be that guy. Regarding healthcare, I believe far too many people do operate with this mindset of waiting until it becomes crisis care. Is it any surprise hospitals are full, there are long waiting times to see a medical specialist, pharmaceutical and insurance companies are seeing record profits, and we still have a looming healthcare crisis. You see, I did not buy a new set of tires this time, but I will abide by the 4/32" parameter.

The person that believes in prevention will buy the new tires to hopefully prevent a potential issue. It does feel good to drive on a new set of tires. Do they ride that much better, or is it the feeling associated with the fact that you have voluntarily invested in yourself? Doesn't really matter. The thing is, you feel better and you probably have a safer car too. Regarding your health, prevention is not so black and white. Many people think prevention is having insurance and getting an annual physical exam. Maybe taking some vitamins and super foods promoted by TV commercials or a Whole Foods employee. Do I sound cynical? It should because I am.

Where do I much to comment on. Please do not think getting an annual physical, you know the "general check up" is anywhere near adequate. Yes it is covered by your health insurance, that's nice, except it is almost worthless. You often hear the phrase, early detection is the key to prevention. But early detection is only possible if the clinician has enough enough meaningful data points to accurately forecast a prediction.

The scoop of the general check up is rather small. Limited tests limits early detection unless the patient already has fairly advanced indicators of a disease process.

Ironic that an exam used for prevention is only effective for finding disease. More on the benefit of the annual exam next time. I will share some startlingly results from data analyzed on 183,000 people as part of 14 clinical trails carried out over a number of years.

If you are more of a wellness minded consumer, get a front end alignment, check the shocks, choose better roads to travel, take a driving course, maybe choose to limit driving unless you really want to ..... actions to enhance wellness has no boundaries. It reaches every aspect of your thinking, actions, and feelings.

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