When to Replace Your Tires

Knowing when to replace your tires is crucial for ensuring that your vehicle is safe and that it runs optimally. Given that tires are the only contact point between your vehicle and the road — they play a huge role in traction, handling, and breaking.

Although tires last up to six years, they can wear out and deteriorate prematurely for a number of reasons. This includes wrong tire pressure and bad driving habits. Understanding the signs that indicate the need for tire replacement is vital for long-term vehicle maintenance. 

We prepared this guide to help you learn the top indicators that can help you determine when it’s time to replace your tires.  

When Should Tires Be Replaced?

Factors such as tire wear, age, mileage, and the presence of damage are some telltale signs that your car tires need replacing. Let’s discuss each factor below: 

1. Thread Depth

The legal minimum tread depth varies by jurisdiction, but it’s generally recommended to replace your tires when the tread depth reaches 2/32 of an inch (1.6 millimeters). You can use a tread depth gauge or the “penny test” to check the tread depth yourself. 

  1. Take a penny and ensure that it’s clean and in good condition. The penny should be the standard copper penny used in your country. For example, in the United States, a penny with Abraham Lincoln’s head is commonly used.
  2. Examine the tire and identify the tread grooves. These are the recessed channels between the raised portions of the tire’s tread pattern.
  3. Hold the penny with Lincoln’s head facing downward, so the top of Lincoln’s head is pointing towards the tire. Place the penny into one of the tread grooves, ensuring that it goes in with the top of Lincoln’s head first.
  4. Observe how much of Lincoln’s head is visible between the tire tread. If the tread covers the top of Lincoln’s head or partially covers it, it indicates that the tire has adequate tread depth. However, if you can see the entire top of Lincoln’s head, the tire tread is worn, and it’s time to replace the tire.
  5. Repeat the penny test in multiple locations around each tire. It’s advisable to check the outer edges, center, and inner edges of the tire tread, as wear can be uneven. This will help you assess the overall condition of the tires more accurately.

2. Tire Age

Tires have a limited lifespan, even if the tread is still in good condition. As a general rule, tires older than six years should be inspected annually and considered for replacement, even if they have ample tread depth. In fact, most automobile manufacturers do not recommend waiting any longer to lower the risk of accidents. 

Remember that rubber degrades over time, which can lead to reduced performance and increased likelihood of failure. 

3. Visible Damage

Look for signs of damage, such as cuts, bulges, cracks, or sidewall damage. If you notice any of these issues, it’s advisable to replace the tire immediately. Don’t take small cracks for granted — they eventually cause a split tire. Such damage compromises the tire’s structural integrity and safety.

4. Uneven Wear

Uneven tread wear can indicate alignment issues, improper tire inflation, or suspension problems. If you notice significant differences in tread wear between tires on the same axle or across different axles, have your tires inspected and, if necessary, replaced.

5. Mileage

While mileage alone is not a definitive indicator, most tires last between 25,000 and 50,000 miles, depending on factors like driving habits, road conditions, and tire quality. Some manufaturers, on the other hand, offer tires that can reach 80,000 miles. 

As a rule, always keep track of your tire’s mileage and consider replacing them if they have surpassed their expected lifespan.


Knowing when to replace your tires allows you to maintain a safe and efficient driving experience.

At the end of the day, these guidelines only serve as general recommendations. Don’t use them as a replacement for consulting your tire manufacturer’s recommendations and local regulations for specific guidance. 

Furthermore, regular maintenance, such as tire rotations, balancing, and proper inflation, can help extend the life of your tires and ensure the best performance.