Tires don’t have a set longevity—how often they need to be replaced will depend on how quickly they wear out, how many miles they’ve traveled, and their age.
You might not think about how often to change your car tires until you're left stranded on the side of the road thanks to a blowout. If you’re lucky enough to have roadside assistance, you might be able to get out of this sticky situation, but it’s best to stay ahead of any major tire issues before it’s too late.
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How often should I replace car tires?
There are a few different factors that influence how often your tires need to be replaced. These commonly include:
The majority of modern tires need to be replaced every 25,000 to 80,000 miles.
In general, more performance-oriented tires will need to be replaced sooner than their firmer, touring-style counterparts.
Tires deteriorate as a result of exposure to sunshine, pollution, and chemicals.
Even if you haven’t exceeded the mileage restriction, tire manufacturers recommend replacing your tires before they’re six years old.
Most tire manufacturers use tread-wear indicators called “wear bars.” Wear bars are rubber strips molded into the tread that appear when it is absolutely necessary to replace your tires.
If you notice three or more wear bars, it's probably time to replace your tires.
What happens if you don’t replace your tires on time?
Whatever the reason, your tires will eventually need to be replaced—and failing to do so may expose you to the following risks while driving:
- Reduced traction: When you have slippery tires, you’ll have a hard time controlling your vehicle in the rain, snow, or ice.
- Inadequate braking and steering: Tires lose their ability to stay cool as they age due to the loss of rubber. A hot and sticky tire can affect braking and steering, making it difficult to stop quickly or make tight turns.
- Vulnerability to punctures: As the tread wears away, you’ll have minimal rubber left between the road and the air inside the tire. A little nail or road debris might cause a puncture or blowout.
How to tell when your tires need to be replaced
Whenever you take your car in to get serviced, that’s a good time to have your mechanic look over your tires. But you can also stay vigilant and keep an eye out for any signs that your tires require repair.
Tires should be changed when you see any of the following signs:
- Tread depth less than the minimum standards (about 2/32 inch)
- Feeling vibrations through the steering wheel
- A bulging sidewall
- Any slipping or hydroplaning when driving in the rain
- Visible damage like a cut in your sidewall, bent wheel, etc.
- If you have winter tires, you should always swap them out for summer tires when the season changes (and vice versa)
Pro Tip If you’re unsure what size of tire fits your car, there are two places you can find this info—on the sidewall or the sticker on your driver’s side door frame. It should read something like “P 255/55/17S 82.”
Are tire replacements covered by car insurance?
Tire replacements due to normal wear and tear are not covered by a standard car insurance policy.
There are a few additional insurance coverages that might be able to help you out if you have to replace a tire because of extenuating circumstances.
Collision coverage, for example, protects you from damages incurred as a result of a collision with another vehicle or a fixed object—so if you hit a pothole and your tire is damaged, you might be able to have your costs covered.
comprehensive coveragecan help you with replacement costs for damages that are not the result of a collision—like if your tire is slashed, vandalized, or stolen.
But it’s also important to keep in mind whether replacement costs will be more or less than your deductible.
Deductible levels are often in the $500 to $1,000 range. So, if you only need to replace a single flat tire, it may not be worthwhile to file a claim because the repair cost may be less than your deductible.
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