Technical Articles

WheelHero’s Guide for When to Replace Tires!

Stay safe and keep your vehicle performing at its best!

Vehicles require regular maintenance in order for them to operate safely and reliably. Most of the time, drivers tend to focus on oil changes and other easy wear-and-tear items during the life of their vehicle. Knowing when to replace tires is also essential for having a safe vehicle that performs at its best.

Tires are the only thing that connects your vehicle to the road. They are an essential part of your vehicle and are considered a normal wear-and-tear item. But how do you know when to replace tires? Well, it’s relatively easy and can save you money in the long run.

One of the easiest ways to check your tires is by gauging the tread depth. The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends replacing your tires when the tread depth reaches 2/32”. This is also the minimum tread depth required by most states. Anything lower may result in a ticket/fine, and not being able to pass inspection.

Penny Test

Thankfully, there’s an easy way to measure your tread depth instead of trying to fit a ruler or tape measure under your vehicle. The universal method is by taking a simple penny and place President Lincoln’s head downward in a rib of the tread aka the space between each tread. If the top of his head is not visible then your tread depth has not reached 2/32”. If you can see his entire head, then that’s when to replace tires.

This test should be performed along multiple points of the tire as well as the other remaining tires on your vehicle. If there is a difference in tread depth, then it may mean that there is an alignment issue, improper inflation, or a number of other possible issues that you should get checked out at a local repair shop.

Tire Wear Indicator

Another way to know when to replace tires is by the tire tread wear indicator. Many tires including light truck, medium commercial, or high-performance tires comes equipped with indicator or wear bars that are inserted between the tread ribs at 2/32”. When these are visible, it’s a good idea to start looking for new tires.

A tire’s tread allows it to achieve traction and perform properly in certain conditions. As the tread wears, the tire will not be able to channel water or snow, thus reduction traction and making your vehicle less safe than having new tires. A loss of traction while driving in the rain or in the snow could point to tire tread wear.

Tire Dating

Even if your tires still have a good amount of tread life, they may be too old. Six years is about how long tires should last according to many experts. Finding the age of a tire is actually pretty easy. On each tire, the letters ‘DOT’ are stamped, followed by a few manufacturer numbers and a four-digit code. This four-digit code can be split into two numbers: the first two equating to the week the tire was manufactured and the last two being the year it was manufactured. In this example, the code reads ‘1813’, which means the tire was manufactured in the 18th week of the year 2013.

Tires that are old may be starting to deteriorate and have imperfections that can lead to puncture, irregular wear, deterioration, and other issues.

Simply knowing how your vehicle is supposed to perform can be a good indicator of when to replace tires as well. If your vehicle doesn’t have the same performance, traction, or feel while driving when it was fitted with new tires, then it may have symptoms of bad tires. Even hitting the occasional pothole, bump, curb, or other obstacle can damage a tire and require a replacement.

A proper set of tires is key to the safety of you and everyone inside your vehicle. It also ensures that your vehicle will operate safely and efficiently in various situations. Knowing when to replace tires can help protect you and others on the road, while also saving you money in the long run with expensive vehicle repairs and possible accidents.

Know when to replace tires with WheelHero!

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