How to Tell if You Need New Tires | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

How to Tell if You Need New Tires

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How to Tell if You Need New TiresDetermining the lifespan of your tires isn’t as simple as finding out how long you’ve had them. Factors such as road conditions, driving habits and basic tire maintenance affect the wear and tear a tire experiences after a certain number of miles. Learn more about what makes tires wear out, how to measure tire tread and ultimately how to tell if you need new tires.

What Makes Tires Wear Out?

The mileage you can expect from your tires depends on a combination of factors. Other than age, these factors include:

Road Conditions

Roadways aren’t perfect. You can expect to come across your fair share of potholes, speed bumps and sharp objects, and driving on gravel and dirt roads can increase tire wear, too. Hitting curbs and other obstacles often also shorten the lifespan of your tires, as does driving through oil, grease and other chemicals on the roadway.


Driving in extreme conditions, whether hot or cold, puts extra wear and tear on your tires. Sitting in direct sunlight can cause the rubber to break down sooner as well. Driving on wet, snowy and icy roads also impact tire lifespan.

Driving Habits

Quick starts and sudden stops increase friction with your tires and the road, which wears out the rubber faster. Going over the tire’s speed capacity or load index could cause catastrophic failure. Also, not having a professional inspect your car when you notice changes in handling, noises or vibration can have a negative effect on tire lifespan.

Neglecting Basic Maintenance

You should routinely check and adjust the air pressure in each tire and keep an eye out for damage or excessive wear. Have your tires rotated, aligned and balanced every time you have the oil changed. If you change out your tires for different seasons, store your unused tires in a cool, dry place until you need them again.

Improper Use

Using winter tires in the summer or summer tires on snow and ice will wear them out sooner. Mixing tire types and combining incompatible wheel and rim sizes are also bad ideas. Driving at speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour with a spare tire of a different size could damage the rest of your tires.

How to Measure Tire TreadHow to Tell if You Need New Tires_01

The easiest way to tell you need new tires is by examining the tread. If your tires are worn beyond the recommended tread depth level of approximately 2/32 of an inch, it’s time to replace them.

To measure tire tread with a penny, insert the coin into one of the grooves with Lincoln facing downward. If part of his head is covered, your tires still have some life left in them. However, if Lincoln’s entire head is visible above the groove, the tire is worn out and needs to be replaced. Repeat the test in several grooves of all four tires to find out whether they pass or fail.

How to Tell If You Need New Tires

Results of the Tread Test

The tread test is a fairly definitive way to tell when to replace your tires. As you perform the test with a penny, watch out for uneven tread wear, which indicates the need to replace your tires. This means if a particular groove shows Lincoln’s entire head, the tire fails the test, even if grooves elsewhere on the tire are deeper.

The Feel of Your Tires

Pay attention to how your tires feel as you drive. For example, a rough ride may indicate tire damage or excessive wear. If you often get stuck when driving on icy roads, your tires may not have sufficient grip, making winter driving a hazard.


Rubber ages, whether the tires have lots of miles on them or not. That’s why you should have your tires inspected by a professional once a year after you’ve had them for five years. If it’s been 10 years since you replaced your tires, you should replace them as a precaution, even if they appear to be in usable condition. You should also replace your spare tire every 10 years, even if you’ve never used it.

Get New Tires at Scott’s

If you ever notice any damaged areas on your tires or excessive vibration while driving, bring your car to Scott’s for an inspection. We might be able to repair the problem. If not, we offer quality tire replacements from brands like Good Year, Michelin and Firestone.

Stop by Scott’s Fort Collins Auto & Repair for a free tire replacement estimate. Schedule your appointment ahead of time or call us at (970) 682-4202 to let us know when you plan to stop by. Don’t forget – we also offer free loaner cars for qualifying repairs so you won’t be without wheels while we work on your car.

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