Tire maintenance & safety

Understanding when to replace tires is critical

A sidewall closeup of heel toe wear of a tire.
Last updated 3/10/2022 - Originally published 9/24/2020
Written by SimpleTire

Everything rides on your tires

Ever driven on a set of tires that really needed to be replaced? It’s no fun. Excessively worn tires will ride rougher, be noisier, lose traction on corners, and will have poor braking performance. And that’s not even thinking about what it’s like driving on wet pavement with them.

The bottom line is, worn tires are downright treacherous. But the fact that tires wear so slowly means that it can be hard to know when they’re worn to the point of no return. That’s why it’s important to know when you need to get new tires.

How to inspect your tires for replacement

We get it, when you’re filling your gas tank or connecting the charger, a lot of times you’re distracted and thinking about what your to-do list is for the day. You’re probably not thinking about how often to replace tires. Still, that’s the perfect time to go around and do an inspection of your tires. After all, it’s a lot better to find a problem then, than find yourself in a parking lot or by the side of the road with a flat.

Visual inspections

As you’re walking around your car be on the lookout for:

  • Foreign objects like glass, nails, or other debris embedded in the tread
  • Uneven wear (we’ll expand on that in a minute)
  • Scuffs along the sidewall or shoulder
  • Bulges or bubbles along the tire sidewall
  • Signs of age cracking and dry rot, sometimes accompanied by a lighter shade of black. Dry rot happens on older tires, regardless of tread wear, and can happen faster with excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

Buldging Tire

How to functionally inspect your tires for replacement

Even if you didn’t see anything too suspicious after you’ve walked around the vehicle and visually inspected your tires, there are a few other considerations to better understand the health of your tires.

Excessive wear and tear can warrant more immediate tire replacement.

  • Tread worn to a point where the wear bars are showing, those perpendicular bars of rubber at the base of the tread. You can check the tread depth with a tread depth card, or if you don’t have one, you can use household change, like a quarter, to check tire tread.
    • Be mindful that 2/32” is the minimum tread depth required by law in every state so if you’re below that mark, you’ll need to replace your tires asap.
  • Uneven wear at the inside or outside edge of the tire can be indicators of alignment problems.

Worn Tire vs New Tire

Product details and specifics can be an indicator it’s time for a new set.

  • Mileage that exceeds the treadwear warranty - refer to your original purchase paperwork and warranty info.
  • Tires that are more than six or seven years old, regardless of the miles on them.
  • Some products, like the General Altimax RT43 and the Continental DWS06 PLUS have indicators within the tread that are designed to easily tell a customer when they need to replace their tires.

General Altimax RT43 Tire Tread

Changes in vehicle performance can also be a good gauge.

  • When tires are suddenly much worse across the board: traction, ride quality, vibration, and noise, the need for new tires is more immediate.

You should make tire inspections part of your vehicle’s regular maintenance routine, right along with checking the oil or replacing windshield washer fluid. Once a month is a good rule of thumb.

How often to replace tires

It’s important to make sure those tires last through their entire treadwear warranty phase. The good news is that with the right kind of driving habits, care, maintenance, and regular tire rotations, you can protect your investment. And now that you know what to look out for and the details you need to consider as your tires age, you’ll be much more equipped to anticipate when you’ll need to replace your tires.


Keeping a log of your inspections can also help you track when it's time to start thinking about your next set of tires.

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