Have you been using the same tyres for a while? How can you tell if they’re still in good condition or if you need to change them? How long do tyres normally last? Learn to detect the signs of wear to know when your tyres need changing.
Causes of tyre wear
A worn tyre is not necessarily an old tyre. How long a tyre lasts depends on a number of factors:
- The composition of the tyre
The quality of the materials used to make a tyre (rubber, steel cables, textile fibres etc.) affect its lifespan. When buying a new tyre, it's a good idea to check estimated performance and lifespan as assessed by independent test centres.
Although designed to resist variations in temperature, the rubber on your tyres will still wear more quickly in extreme heat or cold.
The condition of the roads you use, as well as your driving behaviour (speed, acceleration, braking etc.) and the maintenance of your tyres (regular tyre pressure checks) all affect how your tyres wear.
- The position of the tyre on the vehicle
Tyres wear more or less quickly depending on whether they are fitted to the front or rear of the vehicle. On a front-wheel drive vehicle, the front tyres usually wear at twice the rate of the rear tyres. Remember to regularly rotate your tyres to ensure more even wear.
Read our guide to tyre rotation
If you switch your tyres with the seasons, be careful about how and where they are stored when not in use. Ventilation, temperature variations, light, exposure to solvents and the storage position of the tyres can affect how they age.
Read our advice on storing tyres
How to recognise a worn-out tyre
The following types of tyre wear are all signs that you need to change your tyres:
- The rubber has drawn level with the tread wear indicator
In the UK and Europe, tyres have to be changed when the tread depth drops below the legal minimum of 1.6 mm. A tread wear indicator (TWI) is fitted to the grooves of your tyres to help you measure the tread depth. When the rubber wears down to the level of the indicator, it's time to change your tyres.
- There is a difference in tread depth of more than 5 mm between two tyres on the same axle.
This discrepancy in wear between two tyres on the same axle can affect your vehicle's handling. Don't risk it!
- One of your tyres shows signs of abnormal wear
If you observe any spot wear, asymmetric wear or wear at the centre or on the shoulder of the tread, in addition to changing your tyres, you should try to find the root cause of this irregular wear. It might be down to a mechanical problem (alignment or balance etc.) or incorrect pressure (under or over-inflation).
Find out how to identify abnormal wear
- One of your tyres is damaged
If one of your tyres is out of shape, with bumps, bulging, cracks, cuts or fissuring on the tread, shoulder or sidewalls, you should change it immediately to avoid the risk of a slow puncture or even a blowout.
Check your tyres comply with the recommendations for your vehicle: stick to the recommended sizes, load index and speed rating.
What are the risks of driving on bald tyres?
A tyre with 50% wear has already lost 20% of its overall grip. If you drive on bald tyres, your handling will be unpredictable and wet braking distances will be much longer. There is also a significantly increased danger of aquaplaning or loss of control.
In the event of an accident, if your tyres are excessively worn you may be held liable and be unable to claim on your insurance.
Don’t wait to reach the legal minimum tread depth before changing your tyres. Plan ahead to ensure maximum grip!
3 tips for changing your tyres
Check tyre wear regularly: after five years of use you should get your tyres inspected annually.
Never fit tyres that are more than 10 years old to your vehicle, even if they have never been used, been correctly stored, and haven't reached the legal tread depth limit.
The DOT marking can be used to find out the date a tyre was made: learn where to find this code and how to read it
If possible change all four tyres at the same time. If you decide to change two, fit the new tyres at the rear to optimise rear wheel grip in case you have to brake suddenly or take a sharp corner. Having new tyres at the front and worn tyres at the rear could lead to oversteer (loss of control of the rear axle), particularly on wet roads.
Need to change your tyres? The rezulteo comparison site can help you find the right tyres for your vehicle and needs:
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