With tire manufacturers frequently offering rebates, some people might think there is a best time of year to buy tires and be enticed to make purchases during spring or fall when promotions are running. That might not be the best idea if you’re considering riding on low tread depth just to make it to a seasonal discount. That’s like waiting until tomorrow to eat dinner when you’re hungry today because there’s a special coming up at your favorite pizza place. But compromising safety is a much steeper price to pay than just an empty stomach. That being said, the very best time to buy new tires is right when you need them.

You should replace your tires as soon as possible if any of the following are true:

  • Tread is worn beyond a safe level.

 

Measure the center, inside, and outside of the tread area and find the average tread depth. You can check the treadwear indicators built right into the tire tread, use a tread depth gauge or a tread depth card, or use your common cents (a penny or a quarter).

Guidelines for replacement:

  • 6/32" or more: No need to replace
  • 4/32"–5/32": Consider replacement
  • 3/32" or less: Replace immediately
  • Tire is aged and shows signs of deterioration.

The structural integrity of tires can deteriorate over time due to sunlight and other environmental conditions, increasing the risk of tire failure. Even if there is plenty of tread remaining, an aged tire might have a weakened structure that is potentially dangerous. Spare tires are also subject to the effects of aging due to their infrequent use. Know your tire’s age!

  • Tire has a manufacturing defect.

Tire manufacturers have a limited warranty against defects in workmanship and materials for the life of the original usable tread. However, tires must be used normally in accordance with the maintenance recommendations in the owner’s manual. So, be aware and know the warranty process for your tires.

If your tires need replacing, it’s crucial that you act quickly. Worn tires are dangerous in all conditions regarding handling, cornering, and braking. It’s always best to err on the side of getting new tires too soon rather than too late. In fact, there could also be legal consequences layered in there if your tread gets too low — 2/32" or less is illegal in most states.