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A Complete Guide on How to Tell If It’s Time to Replace Tires

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Having tires in good shape is a must all the time since they’re the only thing in your vehicle that actually touches the road. Driving on worn, bald, and low tread tires is exceedingly risky. So you have to know how to tell if it’s time to replace tires as you don't want to be stranded on the side of the road or, even worse, in the middle of a collision. How to tell if it’s time to replace tires means knowing to look for signs of tire damage like tire punctures, worn out tire treads, damaged sidewalls or any signs of tire wear or aging. We will learn all about these and more in this article.

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What are the signs of a bad tire?


How to tell if it’s time to replace tires has everything to do with knowing how to recognize a bad tire. Here are things you should watch out for:


  • Tread Wear


Once a tire's tread depth exceeds 1.6mm, it must be replaced. You can take your tire to a professional or check the tread wear indicators at the base of the grooves to see if the depth is correct. Don't take your vehicle's treads for granted because they keep your vehicle firmly anchored on the road. Your car will have more traction on the road if the treads are in good condition. In addition, in several states, having insufficient tread is deemed illegal. Finally, worn treads might cause premature wear on other sections of your vehicle.


Place a penny in various tread grooves across the tire, head first. Your treads have become shallow and it’s time to replace tires if you can always see the top of Lincoln's head. You have more than 2/32 of an inch of tread depth left if part of Lincoln's head is always covered by the tread. This indicates that you are unlikely to require new tires.


Examine the transportation department's tire tread requirements for your state or region. To find out about tread laws in your country, contact the department of transportation by phone or email, or go to their website. Tires are deemed legally worn out in some places when they have lost 1/16 inch (0.16 cm) of their remaining tread depth.


  • Tire punctures


How to tell if it’s time to replace tires means check your tires for any punctures. If you find any, make sure to replace the damaged tire with a spare before leaving your driveway, as running on a damaged tire is never a good idea. Take the punctured one to a tire expert for an accurate diagnosis.


When it comes to a tire puncture, tubeless tires have an edge. Of course, it gets punctured, but it doesn't go flat right away, giving you enough time to travel home or to a service station. It is not recommended to drive a tire with a tube without first mending the puncture. So make sure you have a spare tire and that it is completely filled and in good driving condition at all times.


A 14-inch-diameter (6-mm) puncture can be repaired. It is also limited to two punctures with a distance of no more than 16 inches between them. How to tell if it’s time to replace tires? For one, anything larger than this is not allowed to be repaired. Larger punctures, as well as massive straight, deep, and irregular wounds, cannot be fixed. This has the potential to sever the steel belts. This would no longer be strong and durable enough to ensure safe functioning.


  • Damaged sidewalls


The middle tread area is the only part of the tread that can be repaired. Punctures on the shoulder or sidewall should necessitate tire replacement. When you strike curbs or any other objects or barriers when turning, the sidewalls, which are located on the side of the tires, might be damaged. Damaged sidewalls can reduce tire pressure, resulting in a vehicle that is less fuel efficient.


How to tell if it’s time to replace tires also has got something to do with checking for any cracks or bulges. Tires that aren't built for winter, for example, can stiffen in cold conditions. This could lead to some cracks in the sidewall over time and multiple winter seasons. Bulges can also happen when air is trapped between the tire's liner and the outer rubber. This could happen after hitting a curb or a pothole, albeit it is not a common event.


Check the sidewalls of your tires regularly, especially if they are older. You have a rough notion of how the tire should look, and if you find fractures or bulges, it could mean serious problems are on the way. Avoid driving on a tire that has a bulge in the sidewall. This implies that the tire's structural integrity has been compromised, considerably increasing the risk of a sudden failure or blowout at highway speeds.


  • Abnormal tire wear


If one of your tires appears to be wearing out faster than the others, you should get your wheel alignment and tire pressure examined. For a smoother ride and longer tire life, make sure newly installed tires are properly balanced. Damage within the tire might cause abnormal tire wear, so have your tires checked by a professional if this happens.


Over or underinflation, improper  tire alignment, or a worn-out suspension are the most common causes of uneven tire wear. Winter's impacts may linger in your tires regardless of the season: Snow, salt, cold or shifting temperatures, and the common occurrence of winter potholes all contribute to road wear and tear.


If you detect uneven tread wear, bring your car in for service. This could mean that your wheels are misaligned, your tire pressure is incorrect, you need to rotate your tires, or all of the above. Uneven tread wear, regardless of the cause, is a sign that you should take your car in for service.


Before replacing tires, have a qualified tire shop inspect your suspension and fix it as needed if uneven tire wear is significant or if tires wear out faster than intended. The life of a tire can be drastically reduced due to improper alignment or damaged suspension elements. To avoid uneven tread wear, rotate your tires in pairs from front to back. Both front tires should be moved to the back, and vice versa.


  • Aging Tires


You'll know when your tire's lifespan is up when it's time to replace it. Have your vehicle's tires checked every now and then, even if there is no visible damage. At all times, the treads must be visible. If you drive on old or worn-out tires, your braking distance may be reduced, so don't take the chance.


Regardless of tread depth, old tires are unsafe. While there is no nationally mandated safety advice on when a tire is too old to be safe, many automakers recommend replacing tires after six years. Regardless of the cost, it's always better to be safe than sorry.


Some people require adventure in their lives, while others simply need to get to work every day. The only real resemblance is that deteriorating tires can limit your ability to drive the way you want. The older the tires are, the less performance they provide, the less comfortable they are, and the less safe they are.


  • Frequent Air Pressure Issues


Low tire pressure is quite typical, especially during the winter months when temperatures drop, but if you notice it regularly, it could be a symptom that you need to replace your tires. While a puncture may be a simple problem with a quick cure, driving on an underinflated tire for an extended period of time can cause uneven wear. As previously stated, this can cause the tire's lifespan to be shortened.


  • Discomfort and Vibrations


Not all vibrations are the same. While there are moments when you may experience a bumpy ride (for example, on poorly surfaced roads), drivers can typically sense when anything is actually wrong. That does not necessarily imply that the problem is with the tire. There could be an alignment issue or a suspension problem. Major vibrations, on the other hand, could be caused by worn tires. In any case, if you're having a very unpleasant ride, have your vehicle and tires checked right away.

Is the penny test for tires accurate?


For years, drivers have been assured that the “penny test” is useful in how to tell if it’s time to replace tires. The test is performed by placing a penny head in a tire tread; if all of Lincoln's head is visible, the tires should be replaced. The penny test is outmoded, according to Tire Rack, which studies and sells tires. Instead, drivers should use a quarter. Instead of a 16th, the quarter delivers an eighth of an inch measurement.


To use the quarter test, place the quarter in the tire tread groove with the head down. Part of Washington's head should ideally be covered. If Washington's entire head is visible, it's probably time to consider a new set of tires.

How often should you replace tires?


How to tell if it’s time to replace your tires? Sometimes it is just time. Your tires appear to be in good condition, but they've been on your vehicle for quite some time. So you're thinking to yourself, “When should I change my tires?” You do not need to wait for your tires to blowout or get flat, as the tread depth and manufacturing date are also two factors that will assist you in determining when you should replace your tires.


Tires with worn tread lose traction while braking and don't hold the road properly when driving in rain, ice, or snow. Even though there is plenty of tread left, tires should be replaced at least every six years if they are too old. That's because the rubber will dry out and break over time, perhaps resulting in a blowout or flat tire.


Check the four-digit Department of Transportation code on your tire wall to discover when it was made to see how old your tires are. The first two numbers represent the week in which it was created, while the other two represent the year. If your tire has the number “1006” printed on it, it was made in the 10th week of 2006. It can be difficult to locate the date code. The initials DOT are commonly used before it. After DOT, there are further numbers and letters. Seek for a set of four digits ending in two numerals that correspond to a previous year.


Look for the letters DOT, followed by additional letters and numbers, if you can't find the number. The code should come after the dot and will be free of letters. Remember that, while tires have a maximum service life of 10 years (measured from the date of manufacturing), this should never be considered as the maximum driving time. If you suspect your car has tires that are more than 6 years old, always err on the side of caution.


If the tread depth is less than the minimum depth requirement, which is usually 2/32 inch, replace your tires immediately (0.16 cm). Tire age is measured from the date of production, not from the date of sale, because tires deteriorate even in storage.


Test all of your tires and replace them all at once if possible. A mismatched set of tires will not provide the same level of safety, performance, or efficiency as a matched set. It’s also useful to know that tires age faster the warmer the climate.



A new set of tires can be costly. However, don't put off replacing your tires because they're your vehicle's most critical safety feature. New tires can also make your automobile more comfortable to drive, and some current brands can even help you save money on gas. When it's time to change your tires, check the tread depth and the manufacture date.

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