Your tyres need changing more regularly than you may think. As the only part of your car to touch the ground, they experience a lot of wear and tear.
Changing your tyres on a regular basis keeps your car in good working order. If your tyres are not performing well, your car will have to work harder and will use more fuel in the process. In the long term, this means that your car could be more expensive to run. Even more importantly, poorly performing tyres make your car less safe on the roads.
Knowing when to change your tyres comes down to three factors: the tread, the pressure and any damage. If even just one of these factors is unsatisfactory, your tyres need to be changed.
By law, you have to change your tyres when the tread is too low. The legal limit is currently set at a minimum depth of 1.6mm across the middle ¾ of the width and around the whole of the tyre.
The tread is the rubber on the outside surface of your tyres that has grooves. The depth of the groove is the tread level, and this must measure at least 1.6mm. Any tyres with a tread depth of less than 1.6mm must be replaced.
Because tyres with low tread are less able to grip to the road’s surface, they are deemed unsafe to use. The legal limits on tread levels are put in place to keep you and other drivers safe on the roads.
To measure your tyres’ tread depth, you need a ruler that begins its measurements from the very end. These are available at stationary shops, or you can buy special devices in good car parts retailers. Place the ruler in the groove and mark where the top of tread meets on the ruler. If this mark is lower than 1.6mm, the tread is too low.
Many tyres have useful guides in the form of raised rubber shapes in the tread. Once these begin to get worn, your tyre tread is less than 4mm and you should look into getting your tyres changed soon.
Although the legal limit is 1.6mm, it is recommended that you change your tyres when the tread is less than 3mm. When the tread is 1.6mm, it would take your car an extra eight metres to stop when driving at 50mph in wet weather compared to a tread of 3mm¹. Different manufacturers have individual recommended limits, so always check your car’s manual first.
|Tread Depth||Remaining Legal Tread||Your Tyre Is...|
|1.6mm||Legal Limit||100% Worn|
Despite the robust nature of tyres, they can puncture and cause a hazard on the road.
Your tyre can puncture while you’re driving, but you may not realise until you are already home. If this happens, it is recommended that you contact a specialist to repair or replace the tyre wheel for you. However, if your tyre becomes flat while you are driving, you will have to pull over in a safe place.
If it is safe to do so and you have the relevant tools, you can replace the tyre yourself. Always follow the instructions in your car’s handbook, and make sure you and your passengers are all safe before beginning to change a tyre. Turn on your hazard lights and place a warning triangle 100m behind your car. If, for any reason, you do not feel comfortable or confident changing the tyre, call for emergency breakdown assistance.
On average, most tyres are sufficient to drive for around 20,000 to 30,000 miles.
Tyres that are ten years’ old should be replaced to ensure your car is safe to drive. You can find out when your tyres were produced by reading the markings on the sidewall of the tyre. You will find a four digit number which represents a month and year, i.e. 0316 would represent March 2016.
When you have been driving with the same tyres for five years of more, it is a good idea to have them inspected regularly to make sure they are still in good condition. Tyres show signs of ageing from exposure to heat, sunlight and rain, and you will notice cracks in older tyres. If you notice any cracks, take your tyres to be checked by a specialist immediately.
At Sturgess, a team of expert technicians can thoroughly check your tyres for you. As well as assessing them for any problems, they will check the general wear and tear to make sure they are still strong enough for the roads.
You should check the pressure of your tyres once a month, at least, and before long journeys.
Keeping your tyres at the correct pressure helps them to last longer because the tread will wear evenly. Too little pressure and the tyres will wear more on the outside edges, too much and they will wear heavily on the middle.
The correct pressure for your tyres can be found on the inside of the driver’s door pillar or in the manual. Usually, there will be two figures shown, one for when the car is loaded and one for when it is not, often known as the ‘normal’ driving condition.
You can check the pressure of your tyres at most petrol stations. Start by removing the valve stem cap on the wheel, and then place the pressure gauge onto the valve stem tightly. There should be no hissing noise when the gauge is in place. The PSI reading will show up on the display. If your tyres are under or over inflated, follow the instructions on the air pump to get the pressure to the correct level.
Generally, driving well can help your tyres last longer. Avoid turning the wheels when the car has stopped, and driving too fast, as this can overheat the rubber. It goes without saying that avoiding potholes and bumps in the road will also help to preserve your tyres.
It is imperative that the tread, pressure and general wear and tear of your tyres are checked regularly to make sure they are safe for use. We can examine these for you at our dealership in Leicester. Visit the servicing section of our website to learn more about checking your tyres or to book an appointment with the team.
Visit our How To section where you will find a series of guides sowing you how to perform essential basic maintenance tasks on your car. Simply click on one of the links below to find out more. We have also shared some useful hints and tips on how to deal with different driving conditions, so you can become a safer and more confident driver. These can be found on our Driving Tips & Advice page.