How Do I Know When to Change My Tires?

How Do I Know When to Change My Tires?

All car parts play an important role in keeping your car safe and functional. The tires are not only critical to your safety on the road but also give your car better fuel economy. Car tires are the only contact between your car and the ground. This means that they are responsible for stability on the road and stopping your car as needed. For that reason, your car tires need to be in top shape for comfortable and safe driving.

When to Replace Your Car Tires

You’ve probably heard from your mechanic, friend, or relative that you should change your tire, on average, every three years or after 30,000 km of mileage. However, this statement may not apply in the real world. 

Wear and tear on your tires depend on various factors, including road terrain, driving style, and the weather. Therefore, basing your tire replacement period solely on time or mileage coverage can be misleading.

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There are two major and obvious telltale signs of a tire that needs replacing. These are:

  • Tread depth

  • Visible damage on the tires

Tread Depth

The tread depth is the vertical measurement from the top of your tire’s rubber to the bottom of the deepest grooves. A brand new tire typically has an 8mm tread depth. Over time, the tread wears out, increasing the risk of sliding on wet roads.

Every country has a minimum legal tread depth on a tire. In most places, the legal wear limit is 1.6mm. Anything below this level is not only illegal but poses a serious safety concern.

If there’s not enough tread on your tires, water dispersion between the tires and road surface decreases, and the grip loosens. This also increases the distance it takes your car to stop and raises the chances of an accident.

Tires also come with small bar rubbers called tread wear indicators, which are populated in the grooves between the tread. They help tell you when your car tire is worn out. If the tread is worn down to these bars, they make your tire is unroadworthy and needing replacing.

Visible Sidewall Damage

Your car tire can get damaged by objects on the ground, especially on rough terrain. Potholes on the road can also cause the tire to bulge, putting it at a higher risk of failure.

Check for any cuts or damage to the rubber facing the sidewall through the inner structure and replace any damaged tire. Additionally, when inspecting your tires, look out for crazing on the sidewall. These small cracks are usually caused by strong sunlight and sea air. So, if your car frequently stays outside in the sun or you live near the sea, be sure to be investigating them often.

Other ways to know your car tires need replacing include:

Unrepairable Flat or Punctured Tire

Flat tires can be a driver’s nightmare, especially if it happens in the middle of nowhere and you don’t have a spare wheel. A flat tire can occur due to a tire puncture or if the air valve is loose.

While a puncture repair or replacing the air valve usually resolves such issues, some damages cannot be repaired, particularly if the damage is on the tread or the tire sidewalls have been are severely injured.

In such a situation, your only fix is to replace the tire completely.

Your Tire Is Totally Damaged

Sometimes, you may run over sharp objects, rocks, nails, curbs, or branches, leaving your tire badly damaged. When inspecting your tires, look for visible perforations, and arrange for new replacements.

One way to know your tires have issues is when they keep losing pressure. A nail might not be easy to detect but can give you a flat tire if not removed.

On top of that, also check for abnormal wear at the edges and in the center. Such damage may indicate problems with suspension, improper wheel alignment, and wheel balancing. Over-inflation and under-inflation can also lead to uneven tire wear.

Your Tire Is Generally Older

If you check your tires closely, you’ll see the dates when they were manufactured (DOT). What they lack is official expiry dates. However, there are no clear definitions of how old is “older” when it comes to car tires.

If you use your car a lot, you will have to change your tires more often than someone who uses it several times a month. Generally, if you’ve been using your tires for more than five years, it's advisable to have them inspected to check for signs of wear and tear.

Keep in mind that rubber deteriorates over time due to temperature and weather changes. Not to mention driving styles, heavy breaking and accelerating, tire pressure, and alignment.

Important note: When changing tires, it's advisable to stick to one brand. The reason behind this is that tires from different brands may vary slightly in height due to their designs or state of wear. While you can mix tires, it could affect performance.

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