The Signs That It is Time to Change the Tires

Every year, 33,000 car crashes occur in the US, partly due to worn-out, malfunctioning, or old tires that shouldn’t be on the road. Unfortunately, tires aren’t something many of us remember to check regularly.

How can you make certain you don’t become one of the 33,000 drivers in the US–or 100,000+ worldwide–who fall victim to a preventable tire-related car collision? Unlike other parts of the car that you never see, tires can be somewhat easy to maintain and take care of. Here we’ll share some key signs and tips to help you decide when to invest in new tires.

Tread Depth


The tread on your tires is crucial for maintaining a grip on the road. Ineffective treading can lead to sliding in rain or snow, inability to brake soon enough to avoid a crash, or not being able to handle a tight turn at high speed.

Over time, the tread on every tire steadily wears down, which reduces its effectiveness. You can use the penny test to assess your tire’s tread depth.

Take a penny and insert it into the tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see all of the sixteenth president’s head, you should replace your tires. If you see half the head, it may be time to start checking more often, just to make sure you don’t put yourself into danger.

Cracks, Bulges, and Blisters

Cracks, bulges, and blisters in an automobile tire make it more vulnerable to significant problems. These issues can occur due to age, exposure to extreme temperatures, or repeated impacts with potholes, dips, or curbs.

When any of these defects turn up on a tire, driving on it can be like playing with a ticking bomb that might go off at any moment. This can be especially the case if you live in a particular climate but drive your vehicle into another, such as a desert.

Your tires might be fine in a cooler region but start to warp or deform when they’re taken into a hotter and drier climate.

Uneven Tread Wear


Tires should wear evenly across the entire surface of the tread. If you observe an uneven wear pattern–such as excessive wear on one side, in the middle, or in patches–this could indicate a problem with the tire alignment, suspension, or inflation.

If you ignore uneven tread wear, this can reduce traction, compromise handling, and end in potential tire failure. Uneven tread wear commonly occurs when the tires are never rotated or the driver tends to travel the same route every day.

Go give a specific example, a daily commute that consists of twenty right turns and only three lefts can wear the tread on one side of the vehicle’s tires more than the other. That’s because one tire is having to take on a lot more pressure as it makes tight turns, while the other doesn’t take nearly the same amount going wide.

Age of the Tires

Natural or synthetic rubber ages not only because of wear but also due to the mere passage of time. Even if your tires have sufficient tread depth and appear to be in good condition, they might still require replacement if they are too old, especially if the car is stored outdoors.

A general guideline says that tires should be replaced every six to ten years, regardless of their condition. Check the manufacturing date stamped on the tire’s sidewall to determine its age. If you are unsure of the age of the tire, a tire shop or mechanic may be able to tell.

Tips for Maintaining Your Tires


Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer for when to get tires changed. On the other hand, companies such as Cetaris have developed software that informs truck fleets and construction companies when to get repairs or maintenance before disaster strikes.

Using data on other vehicles and their histories, they create a database that warns the owners of vehicles when the machinery appears to be following a similar pattern. It’s not unreasonable to assume this kind of resource will soon be available for every driver, to replace the standard recommendation to change the oil after 2,000 miles, regardless of one’s individual driving habits.

Until that time, however, here are four tips to help you stay safely atop your tires.

    • Regular Inspections: Make it a habit to inspect your tires for signs of wear, damage, or abnormalities. Check the tire pressure at least once a month and prior to long trips.
    • Rotate and Balance: Regular tire rotations (moving them from one position to another) help to ensure even wear. Having your tires rotated during an oil change is a good practice.
    • Proper Inflation: Correct tire pressure is vital for safety, fuel efficiency, and prolonged tire life. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure levels, usually indicated on a sticker inside the driver’s side door or in the owner’s manual. Tires usually display how inflated they should be, as well.
    • Seasonal Considerations: Varying weather conditions may call for specialized tires. Winter or snow tires provide better traction and control on icy or snowy roads in regions that see harsh winters. Be mindful of seasonal demands and consider switching to more appropriate tires.
  • Be Realistic/Aware: If you tend to drive on dirt roads, through traffic, or on roads that aren’t well maintained, be aware that tires may wear out faster than in other circumstances. Don’t let the standard warranty or normal tire expectancy get in the way of being realistic. On the flip side, if you spend most of your time driving on smooth roads or highways, your tires may last longer than expecte.



Ensuring your tires are properly maintained is crucial for your safety and that of anyone who rides with you. If you follow all the above tips, you can feel confident that your tires will perform as they should.