How To Tell When To Replace Tires
When you take your car to be serviced, the mechanic will assess your cars components, and one of those will be your suspension and tires. This is a good time to determine whether you need new tires. You can also regularly check on air pressure, tread wear and whether or not youre feeling vibrations through the steering wheel. Here are some common signs that might indicate its time to replace your tires, and how to try and spot them.
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When Should You Replace Your Vehicles Tires
As a general rule, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that drivers change the tires on their vehicles every six years. However, there are several factors that can place additional wear and tear on tires that force drivers to change them more frequently. If you drive more aggressively by braking and accelerating harshly, your tires will wear much faster than if you were to drive more responsibly. Additionally, if you are frequently driving on poorly maintained roads, your tires could endure more wear and tear as well. Lets explore a few ways to help your tires last for those six years!
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Do You Need To Replace Your Tires
That’s the question that all car owners ask, and we have some answers.
A new set of tires can be a big investment, so figuring out how long they last and when to replace them is critical.
Tires are an important investment because they have a huge influence on the safety of your vehicle. No matter how many cameras, sensors, or other active-safety features your vehicle is equipped with, you’re at much higher risk for trouble if your tires are worn out.
So when should you replace them? Well, there’s no simple formula to determine the answer. It all depends on road surfaces, types of roads, maintenance, car type, and driving styles. But if you inspect your tires regularly, you’ll get a feel for when they are starting to wear out.
Get Your Moneys Worth From Your Tires
Our best defense, for now, is to get the most use out of our tires and only replace them when its necessary. So how do you know when its really time to buy new tires? I was Michelins guest at a track demonstration at the companys North American HQ to learn the difference between how new tires and worn tires perform on wet pavement.
Here is the surprising thing: worn tires, even those that are worn nearly down to the legal limit, can perform nearly as well as new tires. Im not sure Id believe it if I hadnt seen it for myself.
When new, Brand B tires look great. Photo: Scotty Reiss
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What Happens To A Tire As It Ages
Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies Inc., compares an aging tire to an old rubber band. “If you take a rubber band that’s been sitting around a long time and stretch it, you will start to see cracks in the rubber,” said Kane, whose organization is involved in research, analysis and advocacy on safety matters for the public and clients including attorneys, engineering firms, supplier companies, media and government.
Cracks in a tire’s rubber begin to develop over time, appearing on the surface and inside the tire as well. This cracking can eventually cause the steel belts in the tread to separate from the rest of the tire. Improper maintenance and heat accelerate the process.
Kane and his organization have identified over 250 incidents in which tires older than six years have experienced tread and belt separations most resulting in loss-of-control and rollover crashes. These incidents were the cause of 233 fatalities and 300 injuries in 2012.
Every tire that’s on the road long enough will succumb to age. Tires that are rated for higher mileage have antiozonant chemical compounds built into the rubber that will slow the aging process, but nothing stops the effects of time on rubber.
Get A Great Deal On Fresh Rubber From Tire Rack
And, of course, driving style has a huge impact on tire life. Rogers said he’s seen studies with two drivers using the same tires, resulting in a 20 percent difference in wear due to driving styles.
Then there are the inherent differences in vehiclesâvariations in weight and suspension design, and whether a vehicle’s suspension is properly alignedâthat affect how long tires last as well. Tires also need to be rotated at the proper intervals so that they wear evenly.
No two people, no two cars, no two regions of the country will experience the exact same tire wear.
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Never Fit Tires With Less Load
Many vehicles, such as large passenger vans, require Load Range E tires. Fitment of a tire with less carrying capacity, such as a Load Range D, is not allowed. In other cases, tires of the same size may carry different load indexes in the service description. You must make certain the replacement tires fitted to the vehicle have a load-carrying capacity equal to or greater than what the original equipment manufacturer specifies.
NOTE: Goodyear manufactured and/or marketed European-Metric passenger tires and P-Metric passenger tires are interchangeable as long as they are the same section width, same aspect ratio and same rim diameter.
CAUTION: Never substitute a “Standard Load” tire for an Extra Load tire. If the vehicle was originally equipped with “Extra Load” tires replace those tires with similar sized XL tires.
How Long Does A Tire Last
Carmakers, tiremakers and rubber manufacturers differ in their opinions about the lifespan of a tire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has no specific guidelines on tire aging and defers to the recommendations of carmakers and tire manufacturers.
Many automakers, including Ford, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz, tell owners to replace tires six years after their production date, regardless of tread life. Tire manufacturers such as Continental and Michelin say a tire can last up to 10 years provided you get annual tire inspections after the fifth year.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association said there is no way to put a date on when a tire “expires” because such factors as heat, storage, underinflation and conditions of use can dramatically reduce the life of a tire. Here’s more on each of these factors:
Heat: NHTSA research has found that tires age more quickly in warmer climates. NHTSA also found that environmental conditions, such as exposure to sunlight and coastal climates, can hasten the aging process. People who live in coastal states and other areas with warm weather should keep this in mind when deciding whether they should retire a tire.
Storage: This applies to spare tires and tires that are sitting in a garage or shop. A tire that has not been mounted and is just sitting in a tire shop or your garage will age more slowly than one that has been put into service on a car. But it ages nonetheless.
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Checking For Tire Age
Here’s a simple tip to determine the age of your tires it’s written on the sidewall! You can calculate the physical age of any car tire by examining the markings on the tire sidewall following the DOT symbol:
- The last four numbers denote the fabrication date of the tire to the nearest week.
- The first pair of these four numbers identifies the date of manufacture down to the nearest week .
- The last pair of numbers specifies the year of manufacture.
For example, a tire with a DOT of XXXXXXX2714 has a manufacture date from the 27th week of 2014.
How To Know When Car Tires Need Replacing
This article was co-authored by Howard Fleischmann. Howard Fleischmann is an Automotive Tire and Repair Specialist and the CEO of Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair, with ten locations throughout Phoenix, Glendale, Yuma, and Casa Grande, Arizona. Howard specializes in full-service auto repair and tire replacement and care for domestic/imported vehicles and large trucks. Howards dedication to Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair has earned their team multiple awards and features including the 2021 Phoenix Magazine AZ State 48 Best of the Best!, the 2020 Best of Phoenix in Auto Repair, the 2013 Master SBD award, the 2013 National Top Shop award by Tire Review, the 2012 Diversity Champions Phx Business Journal, the 2009 BBB Ethics award, the 2008 Phx Chamber of Commerce Impact Award – Small Business of the Year, and the 2008 ASU Spirit of Enterprise award. Howard is often referred to as The Car Guy for local TV stations and is a regular on TVs Channel 3 Sunday, Good Morning Arizona monthly.There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 15 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,752,975 times.
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Bald Isnt Beautiful For Tires
Youve probably heard it said that bald tires are dangerous, but you might not know exactly what that means. The tread on each of your tires is designed to have a certain depth so that it can channel away water on a wet road or grip into snow. Over time, however, this tread wears down, starting to look smooth, shiny and bald. It becomes less effective at keeping your vehicle under control when its raining or snowy out. Tires have wear indicators that start to show when the tread has been worn past a certain point. If worn down to the extreme, the steel belts inside the tire start will be exposed. You should replace your tires well before these belts show through, though.
You want your tires to have a minimum tread depth greater than 4/32 of an inch, which is considered the bare minimum for safety according to the DoT. Once you reach that point, its time for new tires. You can measure your tire tread depth by purchasing an inexpensive tread depth gauge, which will take the guessing out of determining whether your tires are safe or not.
What Are Tires Made Of
Michelin states that a tires ingredient list features more than 200 raw materials. The main components include elastomers such as synthetic and natural rubber, reinforcing fillers such as carbon black and silica, plasticizers such as oils and resins, chemicals such as sulfur, and reinforcements such as steel and textile fabrics. Heres the breakdown of the major parts of an average radial tire:
Inner liner: An innertube made of synthetic rubber that maintains the air pressure
Carcass ply: Thin textile cords affixed to rubber that provide structure and support
Lower bead area: Located at the exterior edges, this is where the tire holds onto the wheel when rolling over the ground
Beads: Each wheel features two beads, or circular metal wires, that maintain an airtight fit with the rim of the wheel and keep the tire seated
Sidewall: The outside-facing section of tire that protects it from curbs and other damaging exterior forces
Casing ply: Providing a majority of the strength of the tire, the casing ply is made of up a bunch of tiny metal cords
Cap ply: What Michelin also calls the zero degree belt, the cap ply is made of rubber-covered reinforced nylon cords and maintains the tires shape while reducing heat
Crown plies: The structural base of the tread
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How To Know When Tire Replacement Might Be Necessary
Knowing your car and how it performs under typical driving conditions is a great way to gauge when its time to check your tires.
Measure your stopping distance. After all, you probably stop your car many times a day, right? And you probably stop it in all sorts of conditions, like on dry pavement, on wet pavement and even occasionally in snowy or icy conditions. You probably stop at the same intersection every day, too. THAT is where to start taking notice. How soon do you have to start braking in order to stop safely? Take note. When you feel like you need to start braking sooner, note that too. When your stopping distance starts to grow, from, say, 100 feet from the stop sign to 150, its time to check your tires.
Notice your cars traction. Do you feel the rear end slipping or sliding through curves or on wet roads? That could mean its time to take a look at your tires.
How you feel behind the wheel? Do you feel as if you constantly need to prepare to brake? Do you feel like you need to work harder to steer your car? Time to check your tires.
How many miles are on your tires? The typical set of tires should last between 40,000 and 60,000 miles, and with cautious driving, could last up to 70,000 miles. Check the warranty on your tires to be sure how many miles manufacturer believes you should get from your tires.
What new tread looks like versus worn tires. Photo: Michelin
Do I Need To Replace My Spare Tire Too
Yes. With a spare, unless youre driving around on it for an extended period of time, age will be the biggest consideration. For cars, the tire is in the trunk area and protected, though it can still become cracked and brittle over time. If you have a pickup, its most likely that your spare tire is under the pickup bed and exposed to the elements. When you purchase new tires, having the technician check the spare for age-related cracks or damage is recommended.
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Odd Vibrations Or Noise
Weird or excessive noise and vibrations coming from your tires even on smooth roads could be an indicator of a myriad of issues ranging from worn suspension parts to poor wheel alignment to improperly inflated tires. Regardless, it’s a sign something is wrong with your car and you should probably have your car looked at by a mechanic. The issue causing the vibration may have damaged the tire or caused uneven tread wear which means they may have to be replaced.
When Should Tires Be Replaced
The best time to replace tires is before a worn or damaged tire causes you to hydroplane, skid into an accident, or have a blowout on a busy highway. Inspect your tires monthly and plan to visit your local auto dealership service department or tire retailer before a severe mishap.
Tires give clues that the end of their useful life is approaching. Some evidence may indicate safety problems requiring immediate attention. Drivers should also watch for telltale signs of potential issues from wear and aging.
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When Should Your Tires Retire
No matter how new your tire is, Bridgestone recommends checking inflation pressure every month and scheduling regular inspections with a pro. After five years, an inspection is essential to determine if a tire is still road-worthy.
We recommend tires that were manufactured 10 years prior be taken out of service and replaced with new tires. Same goes for the spare. If its 10 years old, it needs to be replaced, even if it appears new.
Its important to note that the age of a tire is not the only indicator of whether it needs to be replaced. Many tires will need to be replaced before 10 years of age due to routine tread wear and other conditions such as punctures, impact damage, improper inflation, overloading and more. If a tire is worn out or otherwise unserviceable from damage or conditions of use, it should be replaced regardless of when it was produced or purchased.
The Cr Testing Difference
Consumer Reports tests more than 40 tire models every yearfor cars, SUVs, and trucksputting them through their paces in up to 12 tests, mostly on our test track in Connecticut.
Some of these tests tell us how well tires grip, brake, and handle how they perform on snowy or wet roads and how resistant they are to rolling, which affects fuel mileage.
We also evaluate tread life by driving thousands of miles on a road course in western Texas and use that information, along with the price we paid for the tire, to estimate the cost per 100 miles.
The cheapest tire isnt always the best value. A significant factor in getting a good idea of the true cost over a tires life span is how long it will last before wearing out.
If it’s time to replace your tires, check our extensive tire ratings before you buy.
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Make Sure You’re Getting A Fresh Tire
Just because a tire is unused doesn’t mean it’s new. In a number of instances, people have purchased “new” tires at retail stores only to find out that they were manufactured years earlier. In addition to having a shorter life on the road, a tire that’s supposedly new but is actually old may be past its warranty period.
If you buy tires and soon after discover that they’re really a few years old, you have the right to request newer ones. Any reputable store should be willing to make amends. But to save yourself the hassle, check the date before you buy.