Cracking on a tire.

When to replace tires

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Car tires nowadays are more durable and last longer than they used to.

However, they only last so long, and at some point they need to be replaced.

Drivers shouldn’t wait more than 8 to 10 years before getting new tires, but – depending on weather conditions – it might be closer to 6 years.

As tires age, the compound can start to harden a bit, possibly causing some traction issues – especially if it’s cold.

How do you know when to replace tires?

There are a few indicators that will tell you when to replace tires.

Cracked tires, or tires that have cracks on the sidewall, is one sign. This can occur because of age or the climate.

At that stage, the chance of the tire blowing out when you hit a rock, curb or pothole also increases. Depending on where it blows out, it could impact your ability to control the vehicle safely.

Taking a look at the tire tread depth will also give you an idea of where your tires are at. Performing the penny test is a quick way to check the tire tread, which must be at least 2/32 of an inch to pass the Virginia safety inspection. Most manufacturers start to recommend changing out the tires at 3/32, 4/32 or 5/32 of an inch, because the ability to stop, go, and move water away to maintain contact with the road diminishes greatly. 

Technician performing the penny test on a tire.
Tire penny test

To conduct the tire penny test, hold a penny on the grooves, with the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head down. If you can see the top of his head, you should replace the tire.

The tread wear indicators becoming visible means it’s definitely time to change the tires. For some vehicles – if the alignment is out – the tread wear indicator can hit on the inside or outside of the tire, compared to the rest of it. So, not only should you get a new tire you also need to figure out what’s going on with the alignment. Do you have a problem with the suspension system? Is it just out of alignment?

Tire damage: Not all tires are repairable

You may also need to get new tires when there is tire damage.

Maybe you were driving in a construction zone and ran over a nail, causing you to end up with a flat tire. You might hit a pothole or a curb a certain way, and cause damage to the sidewall or the tire to blow.

Sometimes, a tire just needs a plug patch. But other times – depending on the location and angle of the injury, a tire may not be repairable. It can’t be fixed if the damage is on the inner or outer shoulder. We talk more about when a tire is repairable in this article.

How to maintain your tires

Maintenance can help extend the life of your vehicle’s tires. Wheel alignments and tire rotations are two ways to do that.

One benefit of tire alignments, which are recommended once a year or when you purchase new tires, is that they prevent uneven tire wear. If you notice that your tires aren’t wearing evenly, it’s one sign you may notice when it’s time for a wheel alignment.

Having tire rotations done on a regular basis prevents tires from getting used to being on the front or back of the vehicle, which have different weight distributions.

Lifespan of tires

When to replace tires depends, in part, on their lifespan. So, how long do tires last? That depends on the manufacturer, the quality of the tire, and how it’s produced. 

Cheap tires, for example, won’t hold up as well or handle different weather conditions as others.

The lifespan of tires can vary. Good tires can last anywhere from 45,000 miles to 90,000 miles. This can be impacted by driving and weather conditions.

Michelin, BFGoodrich and Uniroyal produce a variety of reliable, all season tires. Some that we recommend include the Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire, the BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport Tire, and the Uniroyal Tiger Paw Touring A/S Tire.

Vehicles, however, come in different sizes and have differing needs. So, before you buy a set of tires, reach out to a tire repair shop you trust to get their feedback and make sure any you are considering will be a good fit.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.