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Tyre wear - learn the signs

Old, worn tyre, showing signs of a bulge.

How long do car tyres last? Learn how to recognise the warning signs of old, worn and damaged tyres.

In some instances it can be obvious when your car’s tyres require replacing, other times, it isn’t. It’s important to continually check the condition of your car’s tyres and to learn the basics on how to identify when your tyres need replacing to keep you safe on the roads.
Here are 5 things to be aware of when it comes to recognising tyre wear and knowing when is the right time to get new tyres for your car.

1. Worn tread

Tyre tread contributes to your car’s ability to brake, corner and generally drive safely. Suitable tread depth is essential for effective water dispersion, which aims to reduce your chances of aquaplaning.
In other words, minimal tread is a contributing factor to reducing your car’s traction on the road surface. This impacts on your ability to effectively brake and can contribute significantly to experiencing a loss of control whilst driving.
In Australia, the legal tread limit is 1.5mm. Once your tyres have reached 1.6mm of remaining tread depth, ideally, you should be looking to replace your tyres.
Checking your tyre tread is a relatively simple task and can be done in several ways:
  • Wear bar: tyres have a wear bar in their tread. As the tread wears down, the wear bar becomes increasingly visible. Once the tread is worn level with the wear bar, it is time to replace your tyres.
  • Tyre tread depth gauge: you can monitor the tread depth of your tyres by using a tyre tread depth gauge, which can be purchased from your local car part store.
  • 20c coin trick: this is done by placing a 20c coin into the tread of your tyre, if the tread doesn’t reach the bill of the platypus that means that there’s less than 3mm of tread remaining.
Old, worn and cracked car tyre

2. Cracks, gouges or bulging

Regular visual inspections of your car’s tyres can help you to identify any cracks, gouges or bulging that may be putting your tyres at risk of a slow leak, or lead to a blow out, which you want to avoid at all costs.
A crack in the sidewall of a tyre is an indication that the tyre is developing a leak. Cracks and gouges to your tyres greatly increase your chances of a blowout.
Bulges are an indication that the outer surface of the tyre is beginning to weaken. These weak spots can result in a sudden blowout. If you notice a bulge in your tyre, it is recommended that you call into your nearest BestDrive store to have the tyre assessed by a professional.

3. Excessive shaking/vibrating in the steering wheel

If you notice excessive shaking or vibrating when driving, particularly at higher speeds, then it may be time to get new tyres.
The shaking can be the result of a number of issues, including misaligned or unbalanced tyres. It can also be an indication that there is a problem with the interior of the tyre.
There can be many causes of a shaking or vibrating car, which is why it is always a good idea to consult with a professional at your local BestDrive store to accurately identify the issue.

4. Tyres show signs of uneven wear

There are many factors that can contribute to uneven tyre wear. If your car’s tyres are showing signs of uneven wear, it may be the result of under or overinflated tyres. It may also be the result of a bad alignment.
Keeping your tyres correctly inflated and regularly rotated can assist in achieving even tyre wear. It is a good idea to conduct a monthly tyre pressure check to ensure that they are correctly inflated at all times.
Close up of sidewall tyre markings.

5. Tyre age

Some people make the mistake of thinking that if their tyres pass the tread depth test that they are fine. However, the rubber compounds in a tyre deteriorate with time, regardless of the condition of the tread.
Tyres come with markings on their sidewall, which indicates the age of the tyre by specifying the week and year of manufacture. You can find out more about reading the age of your tyres here.
There is no standard rule that states when a tyre becomes too old to be considered safe. However, once a tyre is five years old, it’s a good idea to closely monitor its condition and have it inspected by the professionals at your local Bestdrive store annually. Remember to include your spare tyre in your inspections.
Your tyres are your only contact with the road. They help to absorb shock and provide grip for your car. When you are driving on old or worn out tyres you are placing yourself at greater risk for a tyre blowout or a loss of traction that may result in aquaplaning. Knowing how to identify signs of tyre wear can greatly assist you in keeping safe on the roads.
If you’re looking to replace your car’s tyres, head into your local BestDrive store. We stock a great range of tyres from leading brands, including Continental, Kumho, BFGoodrich and Hifly, which means that you can find the best tyre for your car and driving needs at a competitive price.
BestDrive. You drive, we care.

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