How to tell if your car needs new tyres

Keeping on top of your car tyresis an important part of car ownership and general motoring maintenance, however, it’s also something that many owners take for granted and forget to check. Your tyres connect your vehicle to the road, therefore it’s vital that they’re in the best condition possible to ensure safe braking conditions and grip. 

Of course, you only need to read our guide on the dangers of part-worn tyres to know just how integral it is that you keep an eye on things, but what are the tell-tale signs that you may need to dabble in some tyre replacement? 

To help make you aware of whether you need to change a tyre or not, we’ve put together a list of things to pay attention to and inspect. 

Tyre tread depth

New car tyres will need to have at least 1.6mm of tread by law in order to make sure that they maintain a strong contact and good grip on the road. However, after time and clocking up many miles, this tyre tread will wear away. As the owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your tread doesn’t drop below the legal limit, after all, the last thing you want is bald tyres and a hefty fine. 

A quick and simple means of checking your tread depth is to take a 20 pence coin and insert it into the main groove of the tread; if you’re able to see the outer ring of the coin, this means that too much wear has occurred and some car tyre replacement is required. 

Cracks, bulges and blisters

Regular inspection of your tyres is key, and in doing so you should keep an eye out for any cracks, bulges and blisters in the rubber. 

A crack in the sidewall of your tyre is an early indicator that your tyre may blowout; not something that you want when travelling down a motorway at high speed, trust us. Similarly, splits, bulges and blisters in the tyre can point to an internal problem with the tyre, so if you spot any of these signs, make sure that they get due attention as soon as possible. 

Holes in the tyre tread

Holes any larger than around 6mm in your tyre tread will mean that a changing of tyres is on the cards. 

Of course, any hole is only going to enlarge and worsen over time as it endures further wear and tear, but larger holes are going to cause you problems with grip, traction and control as well as potential deflation. 

Juddering and shaking when driving

A little vibration from the road when driving is completely normal, but you should be aware of any adverse shakes and judders when you’re in transit. 

Though this can point to potential problems with wheel alignment or dodgy shock absorbers, it can also stem from your vehicle’s tyres too. If your tread depth is insufficient this may result in a bumpy ride and excess vibration; the best way to test things is to find a smooth surface and monitor whether your motor still shakes or not. If the answer is yes, it’s recommended that you go and get your car tyres checked out. 

Squeaks and strange noises

Let’s be honest, your car shouldn’t be making any odd noises at all if it’s got a clean bill of health, but any excessive creaking, squeaking and whining could be an early warning sign that you’ve got tyre problems. 

These sounds are often produced by changes in air compression, which in turn is a result of those troublesome cracks and blisters we mentioned earlier. If you experience any unwanted sounds – don’t ignore them and wait for them to go away. If it’s down to a tyre problem, you could be exposing yourself to the risk of a dangerous blowout. 

Tyre age

Nobody really wants to buy tyres, but unfortunately, they’re one of the necessities that come with car ownership. As we’ve mentioned, regular tyre checks should be a part of your routine, but even if there are no obvious problems with your tyres, age still plays a part. 

So, how long do tyres last? A set that is over five years old should be inspected by a professional, and once your car tyres reach ten years of age, they’ll most definitely need replacing. You can gage your tyre age and whether things need changing by checking the manufacturer recommendations; tyres usually last for around 25,000 miles on average, but this will differ depending on the tyre type as well as your vehicle and driving style. 

In an ideal world, you should be checking your car tyres once a month and always ahead of a long journey or the winter months. If you need additional help and advice with these checks, you can find information on understanding tyre pressures and more on our tyre blog page.