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How to Know When to Replace Tires

Thursday, 21 April 2022

When’s the last time you bought new tires? Can’t remember?

Then it’s time to check if they need replacing.

Your vehicle’s tires are its only contact with the road, so they need to be in good shape to keep you safe! Over time, they wear out and lose tread, making them less effective at gripping the road to prevent skidding and hydroplaning. So how to you know when to replace tires? In this blog, we will give some key indicators that will help you know when to replace them.

How often should you replace tires?

So, how will you know when to replace tires? As a rule, tires should be replaced about every six years, regardless of their condition. Natural rubber deteriorates over time, even if unused. There are some instances where you might need to replace tires sooner depending on your driving habits, and local road and weather conditions, so continue reading to find out some situations that will help you know when to replace tires.

Knowing when to replace tires: the tread depth penny test

All you’ll need is a penny– hopefully you still have one lying around the house somewhere. Start by placing the penny upside down into the tread groove with Queen's head facing toward you. If any part of Queen's head is covered by the tread, then your tire is still in good shape. However, if you can see all of Queen's head, then it's time to replace that tire. As long as there's above 2/32" (1.6mm) of rubber left, your tires should be in good shape to handle normal road conditions.

When to Replace Tires: If there are Cracks and Signs of Weathering

If you notice any cracks in the rubber, this is a sign of when to replace tires. Move your vehicle into an area with good lighting and give each tire a thorough inspection by looking at it from all angles. If the cracks are so deep that they're showing threads, or if the cracks are shallow and barely noticeable but extend across most of each tire wall, it's probably time to buy new ones.

Uneven wear or bubbles and blisters on the tire's surface

If you’re still deciding when to replace tires, look for uneven wear, bubbling or blistering on the surface. Uneven wear is an indicator that your tires may be misaligned. Bubbles and blisters may mean that your tires are not properly inflated. You might experience tire bulging after a substantial impact with a pothole or a curb. If not replaced, it can cause a rupture resulting in greater damage to your car.

If you experience vibration at high speeds, get your tires checked

If you're driving down the highway and your car starts to vibrate, take your vehicle in to see a licensed. This could be a sign of uneven wear or bad tire balance that needs attention. Of course, there could be other reasons your car is vibrating—maybe the steering wheel is loose, or the alignment is off—so it's important to get a professional to ensure everything is running properly.

The tires’ age is a sign of when to replace tires

The fact is older tires are more likely to experience blowouts and other issues that could result in a car accident. If you're having trouble remembering when you last purchased new ones, don't worry—there's an easy way to find out how old they are: Look for a Department of Transportation (DOT) code on the side of the tire.

The DOT code will look something like this: “DOT AE4YJ AKF98 3818.” Those final four numbers tell the age of your tire; they represent the week and year in which it was manufactured (for example, 3818 means it was made during the 38th week of 2018).

When should you switch out your winter tires for summers/all-seasons?

If you have a set of winter tires that you switch out for all-seasons or summers, it’s best to change them when the snow stops, and temperatures start to rise—usually in mid-to-late April in Canadian provinces. A good rule of thumb is when daytime temperatures are 10+ degrees Celsius. If it’s warmer than that during the day, and you don’t expect more snow, swap your tires.

Do tires affect car insurance rates?

The condition of your tires doesn’t affect your car insurance rate, but your insurance provider still expects that you properly maintain your vehicle for safety reasons. If you’re in an accident while driving with bald tires and it’s determined by the police or insurance adjuster that your tires weren’t safe for the roads, then you might not be covered for a claim.

On the positive side, many insurance companies offer a discount of up to 15% if you install winter tires during snowy seasons. Winter tires have thicker tread to handle snowy and icy road conditions, which will prevent accidents as well as help with braking and acceleration, though they are not mandatory in most provinces.

Tire Maintainance Tips to Great Mileage from Your Tires

By following a few simple tips, you can get the maximum life and safety out of your tires.

  1. Keep tires properly pressurized and inflate to the vehicle manufacturer's specifications.
  2. Rotate and balance your tires at recommended intervals to prevent abnormal tread wear.
  3. Stay off rough roads and avoid potholes.
  4. Drive at steady speeds for long distances to prolong tire life.
  5. Avoid high-speed driving for extended periods of time. Otherwise, heat build-up can cause a breakdown in rubber compounds.


With a better sense of when to replace tires, you’re all set with the knowledge you need to take good care of your vehicle. Replacing tires can be expensive, but your car insurance doesn’t need to be. At BIG, our brokers have access to some of the best rates on the market. You don’t have to compromise on coverage to get an affordable rate. Get a free quote to find out how much you could be saving.

By: Amy Legault