3 quick ways to know if it's time to replace your tires

From the experts at OK Tire

People should be more proactive about changing their tires instead of waiting for bad weather before they decide. That’s because today’s modern tires have built-in technology that helps make driving in snow, rain, blistering heat or freezing cold much safer than it used to be.

Darryl Croft, Automotive Expert, OK Tire »

Worn tires are a risk to drivers, especially at high speeds and in poor weather. Are yours still safe to use? Here are three quick ways to check if it's time to replace your tires and how to prevent them from prematurely wearing out.

3 quick ways to know if it's time to replace your tires

Although tires are the main point of contact between the road surface and your vehicle, drivers often neglect to change or maintain them in a timely manner. As Darryl Croft, automotive expert at OK Tire, explains,

“For many, it might simply be tempting to save a few dollars and make them last another season, but tires are a critical feature to driving your car safely that should never be overlooked.”

Why changing and maintaining tires is crucial

Tires are designed to ensure good traction in all conditions and at high speeds, as long as their tread is still viable. That means not only are good tires on your car vital for your safety and for the people with whom you share the road, but they’re critical for other reasons. Croft points out,

“Good tires help decrease your car’s fuel consumption and improve how it handles on curves and during braking, which lowers the risk of losing control and having an accident. They also reduce how much pollution your car emits because it runs more efficiently.”

3 quick ways to measure tire wear

If you’re wondering whether it’s time for new tires, Croft says it's easy to measure tire wear one of three ways.

1. Look for the tire tread wear indicator (TWI)

“A small arrow near the sidewall, on the edge of the tread, points to the tread wear indicators. They're lines in each groove that run perpendicular to the tread. If they’re visible they tell you the tire is now worn out and should be replaced.”

2. Do the Canadian quarter test

Insert a 25-cent coin into one of the grooves with the caribou’s head pointing down. If you can see the tip of the caribou’s nose, the treads are worn and it’s time to get rid of that tire (check all four tires at the same time.)

According to Croft, “A tread depth of less than 2/32 inch is considered worn out. It’s also important to measure the depth of each groove on the tire, not just one, to determine whether there's uneven wear.”

Uneven wear suggests problems other than improper inflation, including suspension and alignment issues, which may require a trip to a mechanic.

3. Take your car to a tire specialist or garage

If you’re unsure about checking your tires, seek help from a professional.

Warning signs to replace your tires

Croft explains there are several signs your tires may not provide the proper traction required to drive your car safely and are becoming unsafe to use, including:

  • Tread wear on both edges
  • Centre of the tread is worn
  • One-sided tire tread wear
  • Unevenly spaced bald spots
  • Visible bulge on the sidewall

How many tires do you need?

If your car needs new tires the question becomes “How many?” Croft explains,

“Different vehicle manufacturers specify in the owner’s manual if you must replace all four tires or if you can get away with just two at a time. For example, with front-wheel drive (FWD) cars it’s recommended you install new tires on the back and move the rear tires to the front because the front tires usually wear faster.”

With all-wheel drive (AWD) cars it’s advisable to replace all four tires at once. Mismatched tires of different tread depths, even if they’re the same brand, can damage the drivetrain.

To prevent premature tire wear

There are several things you can do to avoid premature tire wear:

Check the air pressure once a month
If you’re on the road a lot, then check it every week.

Read the owner’s manual
Croft stresses the importance of consulting your owner’s manual to find the correct air pressure for your tires. Top up at any gas station when tire pressure is low.

Have your tires regularly rotated, balanced and aligned
To ensure even wear, service the tires as per the manufacturer's recommendations or with every change of season.

One aspect often overlooked, says Croft, is routine maintenance of the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), designed to warn you if your tires are dangerously underinflated.

“To ensure the TPMS works as it should, have the sensors regularly serviced. That includes replacing the aluminum stem valves with rubber stem valves. Also make sure key components, like the valve core and valve nut, are replaced to help maintain an air-tight seal."

Get your car checked
If you notice your tires wearing unevenly, your car pulling to one side or the handling seems “off,” see your mechanic or a tire specialist before potentially small, inexpensive problems become larger, costly ones.

Your tires are key components of your car’s suspension and handling, and their timely maintenance is essential to proper vehicle control and safety. If you have any doubts, a local garage or tire specialist can help you out.

OK Tire has been part of the Canadian landscape since 1953, when a group of independent tire shops came together to increase the selection and service that they could offer to their customers. We have come a long way since then; we are now the largest independent tire and auto service retailer in Canada. Today, we have over 300 locations coast to coast, and continue to grow!

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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