Most experienced car owners know how important quality tires are to their journey. In fact, responsible drivers should always think about the “health and safety” of their car. This is important for your safety as a driver, your passengers and in the interests of other road users. For this reason, tire maintenance and replacement should always be part of your schedule and budget.
While we all know how important good tires are, knowing when to replace them can be a little tricky. With a simple eye test, your tires may look good, but they may not be in their best condition. Because of this, you need to write down the basic things to consider when replacing your car tires.
Factors affecting tire quality
There are three things that affect tire quality: tread wear, age and weather conditions. These are overlapping factors that affect the overall condition of your tire, but we’ll detail each one to make the discussion more comprehensive.
Tread wear condition
For many, tread wear is the easiest route Determine the life and wear rate of your tire. Different tires have different tread wear rates. The higher the rating, the longer it should take to wear out. For example, a control tire is usually rated 100. Those tires rated 200 should wear out twice as long as your regular control tire.
Determining the current level of wear on your tire is actually quite simple. We have this method called Honest Abe if you want to maximize your eye test. You only need a dime to check our tire wear using this method.
Hold your penny between your thumb and forefinger. More specifically, hold Abe’s body as you will be using the headboard to measure the depth of your tread wear. Simply pick a spot on your tread and place Abe Lincoln’s head in the grooves. If part of the head is covered by the tread grooves, it means you are using a legal and approved tire (meaning you have more than 2/32 (1.6mm) of an inch tread depth). If not, chances are your tire isn’t in the best shape.
Another thing to consider is the age of your tires? Tires gradually age even though they are not used that often. Manufacturers have their own recommended tire life for each product. Six years is the rule of thumb for most before the original tire is finally replaced. However, maintenance and regular checks should start after five years, since different vehicles have different mileages.
The legal maximum age for tires is ten years. These older tires should be retired immediately. You must follow this rule even if the tire appears to be in good condition (with a simple eye test).
Each tire has a 4 digit code for its age (check the DOT symbol on the side of your tyre). The first two digits stand for the week of production, the last two for the year of production.
exposure to elements
Because of their everyday role, tires are very susceptible to wear and tear and the elements. Road heat and UV rays from the sun cause structural damage to your tires. In places with temperate climates, this may not be a big problem. But in areas with extreme weather, exposure to the elements is almost always a bad thing.
These three factors (tread wear condition, tire age and weather conditions) are factors that affect the quality of your tire.
When to replace tires?
If you are experiencing any of the above factors, now may be the best time to change your tyres. In terms of tread depth, the legal minimum is 2/32 inch (1.6 mm) depth. But it would be best to replace your tires before you actually hit that number. Tires with 4/32″ (3mm) tread depth compared to 2/32″ tires have shown a significant difference in performance, traction and control.
It is important to note that different road surfaces respond differently to tread depth. For example, a snowy road requires a tread depth of 3.9 mm (5/32 inch) to maintain control. This is because in snow you need good tread depth for your tires to compress the snow in their grooves. This process contributes to the traction and mobility of your car.
Importance of good tires
A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that 9 percent of vehicle accidents are due to faulty tires. Simply put, driving with worn tires is more dangerous than it appears. In the rainy season, for example, driving 100 km/h and braking suddenly is never a good idea with bad tires. As a driver, your ability to control and brake is significantly reduced in such situations.
Despite the natural wear cycle of all tires, there are still things you can do to extend life and usage. Proper maintenance is actually key if you really want to extend its longevity. Here are some tips to follow:
- Regular checking of tire pressure
- Proper storage of tires (when not in use)
- Correct wheel and axle alignment
- Monthly check of tread wear
- Equal rotation between front and rear tires
While it may seem expensive to replace your tire before it reaches the legal wear limit, it’s actually a wise investment if you want to reduce the risk of vehicle accidents. Even if you can still drive within the legal limits (2/32 inch tread depth), safety and performance are already far from optimal.
For example, slippery or snowy terrain requires tires with a minimum tread depth of 5/32 inch for better traction and control. There are also “all-season” tires that perform well in a wide variety of conditions. Therefore, extensive research before buying is a must.
Cheaper tires may not be the cheapest product either. While some tires are cheaper, they can also age or wear out much faster.