When to Replace Tyres

At Michelin we are constantly asked: ‘when should I change my tyres?’ Here, we detail exactly what you should do, and when you should do it.

Your tyres have an important role to play despite making up such a small part of your vehicle. The part of your tyre that’s actually in contact with the road is only about the size of your hand. Your safety, and the safety of other road users, comfort and fuel economy depend on that very small area.

You need to make sure you that you’re not only selecting the right tyres, but also regularly maintaining them to ensure they perform at their best. It’s important because your tyres:

  • Are the only link between your vehicle and the road
  • Carry the entire weight of your car, a load of up to 50 times their own weight
  • Respond to driving inputs such as steering, acceleration, and braking from the car to the road surface
  • Cushion from and irregularities in the road surface

Regularly checked and maintained tyres last longer

Check your tyre pressures at least once a month and before any long trip. At the same time check the tyre tread depths, and look for any signs of sidewall damage, or irregular wear.

If in doubt, seek the advice of a trained tyre expert who will be able to tell you if the tyre is suitable for further use.

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When should I change my tyres? 

Below, we list six major times when you should seriously consider changing your tyres. In certain situations, a tyre can be repaired. However, the repair of all tyres must be preceded by a careful examination of all areas of the tyre, inside and out, by a trained specialist. The removal of the tyre from the wheel is essential because internal damage is not visible while the tyre is fitted.

1. If you get a puncture

Thankfully, modern tyres are extremely robust. However, punctures can, and still do, happen. A tyre specialist should check your tyre after a puncture to decide whether it can be repaired.

Safety procedures when you have a puncture while on the move:

  • Always consider your safety and that of your passengers, pull off the road in a safe place
  • Put on the parking brake
  • Switch off the engine and put the car in a low gear, or in Park in an automatic vehicle
  • Switch on your hazard warning lights
  • Wear a yellow high-visibility vest
  • Place a warning triangle at the side of the road 100m behind the car

Your safety comes first — always!

We recommend that wheels should only be changed by a professional. You may be able to proceed safely if you are confident that you know how to lift and support the vehicle and if you have the necessary information and tools to change a wheel.  However, you should not proceed unless you have read the vehicle manufacturer’s advice from the vehicle handbook and you are able to comply with it.

We don’t recommend changing a wheel on the roadside, as this requires specific knowledge and equipment to keep you, your passengers and your vehicle safe.  If you have to stop on the roadside you should exit your vehicle immediately with all occupants and make your way to a safe place, preferably over a barrier, before calling for assistance.

As part of your normal maintenance, check the inflation pressure of the spare tyre.  Ensure it is set to the highest pressure required on the car so that the pressure can be adapted to the axle it is fitted to if used as a spare.  Never drive on an underinflated tyre.

tread wear

2. When your tyres are worn down to the legal limit of wear

It’s a good idea to check your tyres regularly for tyre wear. But how? Here’s a simple way to tell if your tyres are worn out.

A Michelin man figure on the shoulder of a Michelin tyre shows the location of the tread wear indicators situated in each of the main grooves of the tread.

These indicators are small raised areas at the bottom of the grooves of the tread pattern.

If the surface of the tread rubber is level with these raised areas, the tyre tread depth is most likely very close to the legal limit of 1.6 mm. Beyond this limit, you are putting your safety at risk and you are breaking the law. Even if the remaining tread depth is greater than 1.6 mm, you should adapt your speed and driving style to the external conditions, particularly on wet roads.

For Michelin winter certified tyres (M+S and/or 3PMSF marking), a marking in the shape of a snow flake on the tyre sidewall indicates the location of “winter” wear indicators. This is an intermediary wear indicator indicating a depth of tread of 4 mm. Thanks to Michelin 3D sipes on the full tread depth, the tyre maintains its winter performance below this indicator.

3. If your tyre shows signs of ageing

Tyres have no predictable life. It doesn’t matter when the tyres were made. Tyres age even when not used, or if only used occasionally. 

There are many factors that will affect the life of a tyre, such as temperature, maintenance, conditions of storage, and use such as load, speed, pressure, driving style and damage.

Pay regular attention to your tyres

For these reasons, Michelin recommends that all drivers pay regular attention to the external appearance of their tyres for clear signs of ageing or fatigue. This can include cracking of the rubber or deformation.

Excessive ageing of tyres may lead to loss of grip and weakening of the reinforcing structure. Michelin also recommends all tyres, including the spare, are inspected regularly by a tyre specialist. They can tell you whether your tyres should continue in service or whether your tyres need changing.

How old is too old? The five-year test

After five or more years in use, your tyres should be thoroughly inspected at least once per year. If the need arises, follow the recommendations of the vehicle manufacturer regarding replacing the original equipment tyres.

As a precaution, if the tyres have not been replaced 10 years from their date of manufacture (see how to read a tyre ), Michelin recommends replacing them with new tyres, even if they appear to be in usable condition and have not worn down to the tread wear indicator

4. If your tyre is damaged

Your tyre can be seriously damaged if it impacts any solid object on the road, like a kerb, pothole, or sharp object. Any visible perforation cut, or deformation, must be checked thoroughly by a tyre professional. Only they can tell you whether the tyre can be repaired or has to be changed.

Never use damaged tyres or tyres that are underinflated unless they have been thoroughly examined internally and externally by a tyre professional. Inspection by a professional is absolutely necessary because internal damage is not visible while the tyre is mounted. Only then can a decision be made as to whether the tyre is still fit for purpose

Leave it to the experts

A tyre specialist will tell you if your tyre can be repaired after damage has occurred.

5. If you identify abnormal wear

Abnormal uneven tyre wear — in patches, in the centre, at the edges — may indicate a mechanical problem like improper wheel alignment , or a problem with wheel balance, suspension, or transmission.  It could also be that you're driving with the wrong tyre pressure. If you notice abnormal wear, contact your tyre specialist.

To prevent uneven wear, have your wheels aligned and balanced by a tyre specialist. This will also extend tread life and give you a smoother ride. Another way to keep your tyre wear more even is to fit new tyres to the rear axle and move the older tyres to the front axle positions. This provides the best grip at the rear of the car where it’s needed, and you can get more from your tyres as they are worn more evenly, reducing the chance of replacement due to age alone.

Common causes of abnormal tyre wear:

  • Wear on one shoulder: suspension misalignment
  • Wear on both shoulders: under-inflated tyre
  • Wear along the tyre's centre: over inflation

6. If they’re not suited to your vehicle

For best all-around performance, the same type of tyre should be used in all four-wheel positions. Tyres of different sizes, constructions, and stages of wear may affect vehicle handling and stability.

Similarly, there may be specific recommendations by vehicle or tyre manufacturers which apply to your vehicle. These should be followed, therefore, please check your vehicle handbook for details.

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