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How to know if a car’s tyres need replacement?

Snapshot: For a car to have quality ride and handling characteristics, it needs to have a set of tyres that are in good conditions. Here are a few checks that would let you know if your car's tyres need replacement.

Your car tyres perform a very important function of expelling water. It’s necessary that they expel water because if they don’t you risk losing grip and as a result control of your car. So what are the checks that you can do to ensure that the tyres are in good condition and not require replacement?

1. Tread depth

New tyres have deep tread, and they begin to wear with use, and the tread depth decreases with increase in use. As the tread depth decreases, the ability to expel water decreases proportionally. It does not become dangerous until the tread becomes almost 1/16th of an inch. A lot depends on the weather conditions too and the amount of water that tyres need to expel. Still it’s good to check the tread depth with a depth indicator.

A one rupee coin can be alternatively used to measure the tread depth. Make sure that the outer surface comes up until the dot if not covers it completely. Some tyres have minimum tread depth markers built into them. These can also be used to see if the tread depth is deep enough or if the tyres will need replacement.

2. Irregular tread wear

Uneven tyre wear could be caused due to alignment problems or if the tyres are not rotated as advised by the manufacturer. Most manufacturers advise this and instructions can be found in the user manual. Another reason that can cause irregular tread wear is the worn out suspension parts and use of tyres for prolonged period with incorrect inflation pressure.

Irregular tyre wear could be in the form of patch marks or tyre that’s worn only from a side or from the middle etc. A tyre that has an irregular tread can be problematic and can affect ride severely. Not only that car's handling chracteristics and steering input required to do a manoeuvre may change too drastically. 

Read - 5 things you should never do in a car with manual transmission / 10 things you MUST CHECK after getting your car serviced

3. Abnormal bulges in the tyre or sidewall

An abnormal bulge in the side wall or the tyre tread is an indication that the internal carcass or the structure has been damaged. This could be a result that’s due to driving through a pothole or can also be due to hitting the curb while driving. It can also be due to low tyre pressure that tends to load the tyre incorrectly.

Driving a car on such tyres can be extremely dangerous since the structural integrity is severely compromised and can result in a blowout that can result in an accident.

4. Age of tyres

Regardless of how much you drive your car, the tyres get old with years and not only with use. The service life of tyres is approximately 6-7 years, so even if the tyres of your car have good amount of tread and are not damaged in any way as explained above, it’s better to replace the tyres after 6-7 years.

You may also find information related to this in the car’s service manual and with the set of new tyres that you purchase.

5. Cracks

Ideally this should not occur within 6-7 year period unless you purchased a set of tyres that were old in the first place. As rubber gets old, it breaks down and begins to decompose. You would start seeing visual signs of it on tyres in the form of cracks.

Such tyres can fail abruptly while driving and can shear off without any noticeable signs as forewarning and can cause an accident. Replace the tyres before this can happen. Better be safe than sorry.

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