When Should I Replace My Tires?

by | Maintenance, Tires

Imagine that you’re driving at 65 mph with your kids at the back and the rain is pouring down when a deer dash across the highway. You brake hurriedly and… what happens next may depend on how worn your tires are.

Therefore, maintaining good conditions of car tires as well as knowing when to replace your tires is very crucial. Have you ever wondered when to replace your car tires? Here are some tips that will help you decide if it is about time to start shopping for a new set of tires.

There are several indicators signaling that you should replace your tires for optimizing your safety, these include: Damage, Tread wear, Performance issues, Age, Seasonal needs.

Tire Damage

Tires can become damaged without the driver’s knowledge. Most common tire damages are bulges, cuts and punctures.

A visible “bubble” in the tire, usually in the sidewall but occasionally in the tread area, means that the tire has sustained serious internal damage. This can happen when the tire is in contact with certain obstacles. If such damage is ignored, there are risks of tire failure in the future, such as  delamination of the tread and/or plies or disintegration of the tire sidewall.

A deep cut, which you will probably notice only if it is on the sidewall, maybe the result of external influences as bad road conditions, protruding bodywork parts  or  sharp, foreign objects such as stones or glass. If you discover a cut damage on the tire surface, you should visit your local tire dealer and get your tires checked immediately.

If you see an object imbedded in the tire tread, what you need to do depends on whether it is likely that the object has penetrated all the way through. If a small rock gets lodged in the tread, this is no big deal. However, if a sharp object like a nail or screw gets lodged in the tread, it will damage the tire. As a consequence, the tire could lose pressure. Should you notice that one or more of your tires continuously loses pressure or you discover a screw or nail in the tread, you should visit your local tire dealer as soon as possible to get your tires checked. If it causes structural damage and cannot be repaired, you will need to replace the tire.

Treadwear

Newer tires have a convenience that older tires lacked because of “tread wear bars”. These are small bridges that form between your treads. Look at the tread pattern and you will see the beginnings of these bars start to form between the treads, or running across the tires. These bars, invisible or barely visible when the tires are new, gradually begin to appear as the tread wears down. Use the penny test below to double check the depth, but if the bars are starting to appear on any or all of your tires, it is once again time to check with local tire dealer to see about getting your current tires replaced.

The tread on your tires should never fall below 1/16 of an inch (1.6 millimeters) in depth. This standard has been adopted as a legal regulation by many of the world’s national transportation authorities. If you regularly drive on slick, wet surfaces, you would be even better off with twice that much. You just need a penny to measure your tread depth.

Take a Lincoln-head penny, the kind you find in your change every day, and insert Abe’s head (head-down) into the tread. The top of his head is 2mm (2 millimeters) from the edge, so if any part of Abe Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, you are driving with the legal and safe amount of tread, and if you can see all of his head, you need to replace your tires. The tread has worn too thin for you to drive safely.

Performance Issues

  • Some leaks may damage your tires

Remember that checking your tires’ air regularly is important for both safety and fuel economy. If these checks show that one of your tires gets low (check the owner’s manual for the recommended pressure) after a week or less, then your tire may need to be replaced since there are leaks on your tires. Leaks can be caused by cracked or dented wheels, too, so have a qualified mechanic checked for the source of the leak.

  • There is a vibration in the ride or the steering wheel

Vibration in the ride or the steering wheel can be caused by worn tires, but the more common reason is wheel balance. Tire shops can check this balance easily and if that does not stop the vibration, more than likely the tire is damaged.

Tire Age

How old are your tires? All tires (including spare tires) that were manufactured ten years ago or more should be definitely replaced with new tires, even if the tread depth may have not reached the minimum wear out depth. Six years is a safer maximum age for your tires. In very hot climates, your tires may age even faster than that.

Another issue you may check is the dry rot. If you see little cracks all over your tires, it means that the rubber is breaking down. Tires with dry rot can fall apart, separating from the steel belt causing damage to the exterior of the car.

Seasonal Needs

We strongly recommend using the appropriate tire for each season. Many drivers choose to keep two sets of tires, one for winter and one for the rest of the time in very cold or snowy climate. In this way, safety and commercial aspects are maximized under all weather conditions. Modern winter tires give vastly better traction in snow and on freezing-cold pavement than summer tires or even “All Season” tires. Remember that “All Season” tires cannot provide the optimal performance under all conditions.

Things to remember when replacing a tire

In general, we advise to replace tires in pairs (both fronts or both rears) unless the other tire is still new and the replacement is because of unusual damage. It is also a very bad idea to have mismatched (in size or model) tires from side to side, as the different handling characteristics can be dangerous in an emergency.

If you are replacing two tires and your car uses the same size tire on the front and the rear then it is best to put the new tires in the front of a front wheel drive car and in the rear of a rear wheel drive car.

Is it time for you to change your car’s tires? Do you have any other tips for people who have not purchased new tires before? Please share your ideas with me.