Luke's Car advice: When to Replace Your Tyres

By Luke Caesar - General Manager - July 30, 2017

Luke's Car advice: When to Replace Your Tyres

A tyre doesn’t really have a specific lifespan. It’s going to depend on how you drive the car, the design of the tyres that you have, the climate, road conditions, and where your car is parked at night.

Here's some guidelines on what to look for to make sure your tyres are safe:

Guidelines for replacing your tyres

Obviously, if the tread has worn down, and you don't have enough grip on the road, it's time to replace your tyres before you end up in an accident. But what else should you look for?

  • Ten years after the manufacture date, tyres should be replaced even if they appear in good condition and the tread is not worn down. This applies to your spare tyre too.
  • Check the manufacture date of the tyre: the last 4 digits of the Tyre Identification Number (serial TIN) indicate the week and year that the tyre was made.
  • After 3 years, you should get your mechanic to check your tyres annually.

Proper care will make your tyres last longer. This means checking air pressure, tread wear, wheel alignment.

How Can I Make My Tyres Last Longer?

Looking after your tyres will extend their lifespan.

  • Rotate tyres regularly, every 5000 - 10, 000 km, to ensure that you always have even wear. The tyres that are on the drive axle will usually wear faster. Rotating from front to back will help them to wear evenly and last a bit longer.
  • Keep the tyre pressure to the recommended level.
  • Get a wheel alignment annually.
  • No burnouts - buy cheap, narrower tyres if you’re doing these ;).

What Causes Tyre Damage?

Tyres become unsafe over time as they age, and with general wear and tear.

1. Road Surfaces

  • Potholes, curbs, obstacles, sharp objects, speed bumps and off-road driving contribute to tyre wear.
  • Oil, grease and other chemicals on the road surface that contact the tyre
  • Inappropriate tyre for a road surface increases wear.

2. Environment

  • Rain, snow or ice
  • Extreme heat
  • Strong sunlight and ozone

3. Incorrect tyre use

It’s important that you have matching tyres that are suitable for the roads and speeds you drive.

  • Avoid mixing different tyre types
  • Have the correct size for your wheel and rim
  • If a tyre runs flat, or seriously low, you should not reinflate it.
  • Don’t use a space-saver spare for speeds over 50kmph

Check the correct size of tyres for your car in your car owner’s manual, or on a sticker on your car driver’s door. Here you will also find the correct tyre pressure. (add picture).

4. Neglecting basic tyre maintenance

It’s really easy to take care of your tyres, you don’t need any mechanical skills.

  • Air pressure
  • Check for wear and damage before long trips or once a month
  • Alignment and rotation - this will be done at your local tyre dealer. It’s inexpensive, and should be checked annually, or if you’re in an accident.

5. How Do I Check My Tyres?

  1. Check your tyre pressure once a month. You can buy a tyre pressure gauge at your local auto store, or just use the one at the petrol station.

Ideally you want to do this when the tyres are cold, to get the most accurate reading. When you drive the tyres will warm up and the air expands, so your reading will be a little high.

The correct pressure will be found in your car manual.

  1. Check your tyre tread. The minimum legal tread depth in Australia is 1.5mm. A new tyre comes with 8mm of tread, and you should start thinking about replacing your tyre once it reaches 3mm.
  2. Check the sidewall for any punctures or bumps.
  3. Be sensitive to any changes in the handling or steering.

Vibrations, or other disturbances that occur while you are driving could indicate you have a damaged tyre - if you can’t see what could be wrong, it pays to have it checked by a professional.

6. Why is checking tyre tread so important?

⅓ of Australians drive with illegal tyre tread, and 89% of Aussies don’t know the minimum tread for road worthiness.

  • A worn tyre with tread depth of 1.5 mm will increase the braking distance by 38% compared to a new tyre.

This is a lot! If you’re travelling on worn tyres at 80 kmph, you will need 95m to bring your car to a stop, compared to only 69m if you have brand new tyres.

7. Why do I need a regular wheel alignment?

Standing outside your car, you can do a quick check for ‘camber’. This means any tilt of the tyres either towards or away from the frame of the car. If the tyres are on a slight tilt towards the car at the top, the tread will wear faster on the inside first. If they tip out a bit, then the outside of the tyre will wear quicker. Check the front tyres standing in front of the bonnet, and the rear tyres from a position behind the centre of the boot.

The second thing to check while you’re there is the stance of the tyres. If the fronts of the tyres are closer together, in a ‘pigeon-toed’ position’, you’ll get uneven wear from the outside. If the rear of the tyres is closer, they tires will wear from the outside.

Correct wheel alignment is really important for safety too, it makes braking and cornering more smoother and more effective.

Going Green - Recycle old Tyres

If you’re old enough you’ll remember having swings and sandpits made from tractor and car tyres when you were a kid.

You don’t see these around so much any more, but there’s been a big shift to recycling tyres in Australia. There’s a company in Melbourne pioneering new technology and processes to reduce the old tyres to oil and carbon, recovering the steel reinforcement used in manufacturing the tyre at the same time.

Better yet, oil produced in this way still has the same performance, but lower emissions.

I hope this information will help you understand the important role the tyres on your car have, and gives you some useful knowledge on how to make your tyres last longer.