When Do You Need to Replace Your Tires?

John Nielsen of the American Automobile Association, and he’s at Action Gator Tire in Central Florida discussing tires: buying them, maintaining them, and replacing them. In this episode of the video series, he’s telling viewers about how to know when you need to replace your tires.

Why replace?

It’s about safety. Good tires keep you and your passengers safe; bad tires will increase your chances of an accident. And the reality is that when tires wear out, they don’t perform as well. In fact, they don’t perform well in the very times when you need them the most: in snow, on ice, and under rainy conditions.

Every region has its own weather challenges. In the south, there’s a lot of rain in the winter; in the north, it’s snow that’s falling! What these weather challenges have in common is that the troubles mostly start in the winter: that’s when road conditions are at their most dangerous. So the best time to check your tires is in the fall, before the season starts. Wouldn’t it be great to enter the bad-weather season with tires that you can count on?

Check regularly

But even before you’re talking about seasonal issues, something that you should be doing regularly is checking

the air pressure in your tires. You should be doing this at least on a monthly basis. When you’re checking your tire pressure, you can also take a couple of extra minutes to check the tread on your tires.

Tread is what keeps your tire sticking to the road. When the depth of your tread goes below three-thirty-seconds of an inch, that’s when you need to replace the tire, because that’s not enough tread to be safe. How do you determine the tread depth? That’s easy: all you have to do is use that esoteric tool, the U.S. quarter coin. Insert the coin into your tread, with Washington’s head down. If the image of Washington’s head doesn’t go down into the tread, then your tread isn’t sufficient and you need to replace your tires.

But you don’t have to wait until the need is desperate and tread has all but disappeared! Nielsen recommends that you simply replace your tires as the seasons change. Because in the bad weather, you’re really, really going to want to have all the tread you can get.

You also want to look at how the tread is wearing. Here’s the issue: your tires should wear out evenly. But if you see that you’re wearing out more on the inside—or if it’s wearing out more on the outside—then your tires are probably out of balance, and you need to do more than just replace your tires, because whatever is happening to your old tires will happen to the new ones. You may need an alignment.

If you drive on tires that are worn out, Nielsen says, you can “reduce stopping distances by 20, 30, 40 even 50%.” That’s significant! So make sure that you put safety first.