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How do I know when I need new tires?

The main reason for tire replacement is friction from moving contact with road surfaces, causing the tread on the outer perimeter of tires to eventually wear away. When the tread depth becomes too shallow (less than 4/32 in, or 3.2 mm), the tire is worn out and should be replaced. The same wheels can usually be used throughout the lifetime of the car. Other problems encountered in tire maintenance include:

  • Uneven or accelerated tire wear: can be caused by under-inflation, overloading or poor wheel alignment.
  • Increased tread wear on only one side of a tire: often a sign of poor wheel alignment.
  • Tread worn away completely: especially when the wear on the outer rubber exposes the reinforcing threads within, the tire is said to be bald and must be replaced as soon as possible. Sometimes tires with worn tread are recapped, i.e. a new layer of rubber with grooves is bonded onto the outer perimeter of a worn tire. Since this bonding may occasionally come loose, new tires are considered superior to recapped ones.
worn out winter tire of a car