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Tyres are the four points of contact that link the car to the road surface, and directly affect your safety, so it's crucial to know when to change your tyres.
Category: Car Maintenance Advice
Most drivers rush to get their cars fixed when mechanical issues occur. Some do it to avoid hefty repair costs when the situation deteriorates, while others do so in fear of getting stranded on their way to work. But tyres, on the other hand, are often overlooked by drivers. After all, tyre issues hardly affect your day-to-day driving until it becomes serious enough. However, to neglect your car's tyres, will be one of the biggest mistakes a driver can make as it is the only medium that keeps the car on the road, and not off it, into a wall or upside down in a ravine.
So, when should you change your tyres? Here are four indicators that will tell you when it is time to get a fresh pair of shoes for your ride.
1. Tread depth
Tyre tread plays a huge part in performance and safety. Tyres with heavily worn treads will not perform as designed - the effect of bald tyres are even more obvious in the wet, as water on the road won't be effectively displaced.
While extremely worn tyres can be easily identified at a glance, a tyre's tread depth can be accurately measured with a tread depth gauge - most new tyres come has a tread depth of 7mm to 9mm, and the mandated minimum tread depth by LTA is 1.6mm (yes, bald tyres are illegal on the roads). Find using a tread depth gauge to be a chore? Lucky for you, tyres are also designed with wear indicator bars. These are located between the tread ribs at a 1.6mm height - so when your tyre tread is flush with the indicator bars, you know it's time to replace your tyres.
Always remember to check the tread wear on the entire tyre, as alignment settings might result in uneven wear rate at the inner and outer edge of the tyre.
2. Tyre age
If tread depth is how we look out for worn tyres, does this mean that underutilised cars never have to get their tyres changed? Of course not. Tyres are made from rubber, and rubber degrades naturally over time.
As tyres age, the compound will harden and slowly lose its elasticity. However, how fast a tyre deteriorates is highly determined by how it has been kept - in the right conditions with the correct temperature, low humidity and minimal exposure to sunlight, new tyres have a shelf life of up to five years. Hence, you don't have to worry if you are purchasing your tyres from professional tyre shops, they know how to keep tyres fresh!
As a rule of thumb, it is suggested for tyres equipped on a car to be changed six years from its date of manufacture. Apart from poorer performance, old tyres that have not been stored properly might also be prone to issues such as sidewall cracking and delamination, which can result in a catastrophic failure, especially at high speeds! You can check the manufacturing date of a tyre from the four-digit code (first two digits refers to the week and the last two digit refers to the year of manufacture) stamped on its sidewall.
3. Tyre performance
If the performance characteristics of your car's tyre deteriorated drastically, it might well be an indicator that new tyres are needed. Due to the deteriorated and hardened compound, old and worn tyres will not provide as much grip as when it was fresh.
Bald tyres will also have a higher tendency to aquaplane and offer much lesser control in the wet. Some tyres also produce excessive road noise when they are worn or near their end of life.
Even if you do not have the time to conduct a visual check on your car's tyres on a daily basis, you should give the tyres a proper check should you experience drastic performance deterioration and poor road holding characteristics from your car's tyres.
4. Tyre Damage
Tyre damage can occur to all tyres regardless of its condition or age. While damage such as tyre punctures can usually be repaired, the tyre will need to be replaced if there is sidewall damage.
Likewise, if you continue to drive while the tyres are underinflated after a puncture, sidewall damage can occur due to overloading of the tyre sidewalls. Other incidents such as driving over a huge pothole or striking a kerb can also cause damage to the tyre.
Damaged tyres such as those with bulging sidewalls, cracked sidewalls or tyre shavings (on the inside of the tyre, indicating sidewall damage) are dangerous to use, and should be replaced as soon as possible.
*This article was updated on 30 September 2022
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