Your tyres are the only point of contact between you and the road. So regular checks are vital to making sure you’re safe, comfortable and fuel efficient. They also give you a clear sign of when you should replace your tyres. And that’s what we’re looking at in this post.
We’ll look at the importance of regular checks in more detail. As well as the six instances when you should look to replace your tyres, or at least get them checked out by a professional.
So let’s get going.
Checked and maintained tyres last longer
Before we look at when you should replace your tyres, let’s look at the importance of regular checks.
Checking your tyres once a month (and before any long drive) will help keep you and others safe on the road. What’s more, identifying a puncture early on increases your chances of being able to save the tyre.
When checking your tyre pressure, check the tread depth too. Also look for signs of sidewall damage or irregular, uneven wear. If you don’t feel confident checking your tyres, head to your local First Stop garage and let us do it for you.
When should I replace my tyres?
Here are the six instances when you should replace your tyres.
1. If you get a puncture
Modern tyres are robust and feature protection against punctures. But they can and do still happen. Here are some things to remember if you get a puncture while you’re on the move:
- Pull over to a safe place on the side of the road
- Apply the handbrake
- Turn on your hazards
- Put on your hi-vis vest
- Place your warning triangle 100m behind your car
Getting a puncture is a real annoyance. And it can be tempting to try to fix it yourself or save a few pounds by dodging a certified professional. But don’t! Always take your car to a reputable garage like First Stop for a professional puncture repair.
As well as telling you if your old tyre is repairable, if it’s not, we’ll help you choose a new tyre and fit it for you too.
2. When your tyres reach the legal tread depth limit
Checking your tyre’s tread depth is one of the most vital car maintenance checks. The legal tread depth limit in the UK is 1.6mm, but you should be looking for a replacement when they reach 2mm. At which point, grip levels will start to suffer — especially in the wet.
Checking your tread depth is simple. If you can’t find your tyres (TWI), you can use a tread depth gauge. Or, the 20p test is a fairly accurate alternative.
3. If your tyres are showing signs of ageing
Various rubber components make up a tyre, and they’re all subject to ageing. How quickly a tyre ages depends on how it’s driven, how many miles it covers and how well the driver monitors its tyre pressure. But that’s not all. The weather, tyre load and how it’s stored (if it’s not being used) also play a part.
Because of this, it’s impossible to say how long a tyre will last. But you can expand a tyre's lifespan with regular checks.
So I bet you’re wondering, how old is too old, right? Well, if you’ve been using a tyre for more than five years, you should have it inspected by a professional every year. And as a precaution, you should replace any tyre that’s over ten years old, regardless of its condition.
Another thing. If you have a trailer, caravan, camper van or horsebox, you should inspect the tyres more regularly. Because they’re subject to maximum loads, and they often sit in the same place for long periods, they age quicker.
4. If your tyres are damaged
If your tyres are damaged in any way, you must replace them. Tyre damage is easy to spot and can be caused by hitting kerbs, potholes, nails, screws or any other sharp object.
Signs of tyre damage include cuts, bulges, cracks and tears in the tyre’s sidewall. If you suspect any of these, or you’re in doubt, let one of our professionals assess your tyres for you.
5. If you notice abnormal wear
Abnormal tyre wear isn’t uncommon. But it can be a sign of a mechanical fault like improper wheel alignment. Or a suspension, transmission, tyre pressure or wheel balancing issue. If you suspect uneven tyre wear, contact your local garage.
Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent irregular tyre wear. Having your wheels aligned and balanced are two ways to stop it. This will also help prolong the life of your tyres and give you a smoother ride. But that’s not all.
Another way is by fitting new tyres to the rear axle and moving the older tyres to the front axle. You’ll have better grip where it’s needed (at the rear) for doing so, and you’ll extend the life of your tyres as they wear more evenly too. So it’s win-win!
6. If they’re not the same on the axle pair
If you want the best all-round performance, you should fit the same tyre to all four wheels. Having a different size, type and brand of tyre can affect your vehicle’s handling and stability.
So that’s everything you need to know about when to replace your tyres. Remember, if you’re unsure about anything we mention in this post — whether it’s tread depth, abnormal wear or tyre damage — head to your local First Stop garage for professional advice.