How to tell if you need new tyres

Bad tyres lead to accidents, while good tyres keep you safer on the road.

The tyres of your car take a real beating over time. A tyre failure, while you are driving, may cause you to lose control of the vehicle. This is a situation no driver ever wants to be in. That’s why it is good to know when your tyres are looking a little worse for wear and change them before there is an incident. Here are some simple things you can do to ensure your tyres are in good shape.

Tread depth

The tread depth on your tyres should never fall below 1.6 millimetres. If you regularly drive on slick or wet surfaces you will be better off with twice that much depth. You can easily buy a gauge to measure your tread depth the same way the professionals do.

These days tyres have convenient tread wear indicator bars built into them. These bars are barely visible when the tire is new but as they gradually wear down these bars begin to appear. The bars are flat and run perpendicular to the direction of the trend itself. If more than one or two are visible this means the tread is getting low and the tire needs replacing. The tread bars will be particularly obvious when driving on wet tracks as they will leave obvious prints. However, it is better to change your tyres before you reach this point as it is dangerous to drive in the wet without proper tyre tread.

Leaks and weak spots

The other place in which problems with tyres can appear is in the side wall. Visual checks of this area are relatively simple. Look for tracks or cuts in the sidewall. These should be quite obvious to the naked eye. A particularly noticeable mark in the sidewall could be a sign your tyre is developing leaks or even worse, is ready to blow and will need replacing immediately. Take note of cracked and weathered sidewalls as these signs of wear can also lead to future problems.

If you can see a bulge or a blister on your tyre that seems to extend outward from the rest of the surface, it could mean the outer surface of the tyre has begun to weaken. This weak spot can cause a sudden blowout, which is extremely dangerous when your vehicle is moving. Get into the habit of checking for weak spots on your tyres regularly.

Vibrations

Vibration is inevitable when driving especially on poorly paved or unpaved roads. If you have been driving for a while you will probably be able to tell the difference between normal vibrations and when something is not right.

Lots of vibration could mean that your tyres are misaligned or unbalanced. It could also mean that your shock absorbers are starting to go or there is an internal problem with one of your tyres. Even if your tyres are not the direct cause of the vibration, they could eventually damage the tyre.

If you notice a large amount of vibration, particularly when driving on well-paved roads, you should get your car checked out right away.

For more information on caring for tyres, RACQ has a guide to maintaining tyres.