As we all know, your tyres will need to be replaced at some point, but when? How do you know if your tyres are worn out? Should you opt for different tyres or stick with the brand that came with your car? What can you do to make your tyres last longer? We will try to answer these questions in this post.
As you drive, the tire tread material wears down. Worn out tyres have less grip on the road, increasing the risk of an accident. An all-wheel drive system, antilock brakes and vehicle stability control system are less effective if the tyres don’t have enough grip.
How do you know when your tyres are worn out? Most auto repair shops check your tyres during your regular oil changes. Mechanics use a tire tread depth gauge to measure tire tread depth and inspect your tyres for damage.
The tire tread is measured in 32nds of an inch. New tyres have 9/32” to 11/32” of the tread material. A tire is considered unsafe when the tread is worn down to 2/32” (1.5 mm). However, at 2/32” tyres are practically bald. In our experience, you will start noticing slipping on wet or slick roads when your tyres are worn down to about 4/32” or less than half of the tread material. At this point, you should start looking for new tyres. See how the tread depth is measured:
A tire gauge can be purchased in Walmart or other stores. With a quarter placed upside down, if George Washington’s head is covered by the tread, you have more than 4/32 of tread material left.
The worn-out tread material is not the only reason for tire replacement. A tire will need to be replaced if it has cracks, cuts, bulges, punctures in the sidewall or any other damage or defect that makes it unsafe. If the tire becomes damaged after driven flat, it will also need to be replaced. See a few examples:
1. Cut in the sidewall
2. Sidewall bulge
3. Puncture in the sidewall (sidewall puncture cannot be repaired)
4. Tire that has sidewall damage after driven flat
5. This tire also was driven flat – it has rubber shavings inside.
6. Cracks in the tire material
7. “Cupped” tire
8. Tire worn on one side
9. This tire is worn to the cord
Do you have to replace tyres with the same brand that was originally installed on your vehicle? The answer is no, you can opt for any tyres that fall within car manufacturer recommendations (size, speed rating, etc.). In fact, by switching to different tyres you can adjust your car’s handling to your preferences. If you like a quieter ride, you can select tyres that provide better ride comfort.
If you are looking for better fuel economy, look for low rolling resistance tyres. If you need more grip on wet roads, look for wet traction or wet braking scores. Sites like tirerack.com and consumerreports.org offer comparisons of different tyres on tread life, fuel economy, ride comfort, noise level, handling in snow and other ratings. Replacing all four tyres is not cheap, but it’s an investment in your safety and better driving experience.
What can you do to make your tyres last longer? It’s actually easy: opt for tyres with longer tread life ratings. Check tire pressure regularly and keep it up to the car manufacturer specifications. Have the tire rotation done as often as recommended in the maintenance schedule; in some cars, if not rotated, tyres may need replacement in as early as 15,000 miles. Have the wheel alignment done whenever tyres are replaced and then at least once in two-three years or after hitting curbs, large bumps or potholes.