How often should you replace your tires?
Changing tires on a car seems like an endless process. Tires should be changed at the end of their useful tread life, which can vary car to car — from 20,000 miles for an ultra-high performance tire, to 90,000 miles for an all-season tire. You can gauge wear using the tread indicator or bridge manufactured into the central, circumferential grooves of the tire. When this tread indicator becomes flush with the adjacent tread, the tire is considered legally bald. Tires should also be changed after a period of five or more years regardless of mileage, or when the tire begins to crack and dry rot. Lastly, tires take a fair share of abuse from nails and glass to potholes and curbs. Any sort of damage to the tires — a gash in the sidewall, bubbles, larger punctures — should be addressed with replacement. An experienced technician will be able to gauge the wear and quality of tires during any routine service.
What are the symptoms of faulty tires?
A noticeable loss of traction is the most obvious symptom of worn or bald tires. However, even before a tire reaches this point, the traction will be reduced in comparison to the first third to half of tread life. In fact, traction is reduced considerably as the rubber becomes dry and hard and the small cuts in the tire tread blocks (called sipes) start to disappear — usually around 4/32nd of an inch. Tires should be changed before they reach the legally bald state, especially in areas that receive lots of precipitation.
Why is it important to change your tires in a timely manner?
The ability to safely control a car begins with the tires. As the only contact point the car makes with the driving surface, the tire provides the traction or grip for acceleration and braking. Even bald tires will deliver this traction in dry weather, but the ability to channel away water or snow is imperative. Good tires will prevent hydroplaning and allow safe navigation over most surface conditions. On top of good traction, tires will improve to a certain degree how the car handles when taking a turn or maneuvering on the highway. Tire speed ratings (how well a tire performs at higher speeds) have increased on most applications, so even basic car suspensions are enhanced (or diminished) by the tires.
What is the impact of not changing tires when necessary?
With little or no care for tires, the risk of losing control of a car rises dramatically and can ultimately lead to an accident. Tires with low tread or tires that are bald cannot evacuate water or snow fast enough from the contact area with the road. This layer of fluid between the tire and road greatly diminishes friction and will cause the car to hydroplane, making it hard to steer or safely stop for even experienced drivers. Neglected damage to tires is dangerous as well. Bubbles or gashes are weakened areas to the overall construction of the tire. Especially when these occur on the sidewall of a tire, the chances of a tire blowout increase, which can lead to a lack of control over the car. In either case, the best course of action is tire replacement.
What is the typical cost for new tires?
- Estimated new tire cost: $85–$170 (per tire)
- Estimated tire installation cost: $15–$50 (per tire)
New tire pricing will vary significantly based on vehicle type. Save time and money by using Openbay to compare pricing and book an appointment with a service center in your area.
Service article written by an ASE Master Technician