How Often to Replace Tires: A Guide

Picture this: You’re driving down the highway for one last big trip before summer ends. Everything’s going well, there’s minimal traffic, and you’re enjoying the thought of nothing but an open road ahead of you.

Suddenly, you hear a loud bang and your speed starts tanking. Your car feels like it’s driving down a bumpy road, but with no visible bumps. You pull over and realize why. Your tire has blown out due to a combination of heat, wear, and low pressure.

If you don’t want this to happen to you, you need to know how often to replace tires. Most folks aren’t sure when this should take place and wait until a mechanic tells them they need it. Or worse, until a disaster happens.

Don’t let this happen to you. Here’s what you need to know about tire replacement.

Signs Your Tires Need Replacing

You may not know exactly when to replace tires before they burst or go flat. However, most wheels will start showing clear signs that they’re at the end of their rope long before you reach that disaster threshold. Some common signs that indicate a tire replacement is an imminent threat include:

They’re Getting Too Old for This Nonsense

Many amateur drivers will state that it’s not the age of the tires that matters, but the mileage. Those people are what we in the business call completely wrong. It’s a common misconception since most tires out there get backed by mileage warranties, not timed warranties.

However, if your car barely gets driven due to lockdown orders, or is a classic you keep stored in your garage, you may need to replace your tires well before you hit that mileage threshold. Tires over six years old should be replaced as soon as possible. Once you go past that age, you run the risk of rupture.

Uneven or Irregular Treadwear

The tire’s tread is the layman’s measure of the state of their tires. If the tread seems shallow or thin, it’s definitely time to swap out your wheels. However, you should also consider a trip to the mechanic for a tire swap if the tread seems uneven or irregular.

Fender contact, alignment issues, or suspension problems can all cause irregular wear. All of which require a mechanic’s care to fix, so don’t try to DIY.

Tires Shouldn’t Bulge or Bubble

Generally speaking, your tires shouldn’t look like they’ve just eaten a complete Thanksgiving dinner. If your sidewall bulges or bubbles, not only does it look gross, but it could cause serious damage to your ride if left untreated.

Some common causes for this phenomenon include:

  • Pothole or curb-checking
  • Hitting something in the middle of the road
  • Damage during shipping, or
  • Manufacturer defects

If you see this, get a tire replacement ASAP. You don’t want to put excess wear on a bulging tire.

High Mileage Driver

As we mentioned above, most tires have mileage-based warranties. If you have to commute over an hour for work, as the average pre-pandemic worker does, chances are, your tires show greater wear and tear for their trouble. The maximum mileage your tires can stand gets slashed even further if you have to take them through weather conditions they weren’t made to endure.

Those massive off-roader tires might make your lifted truck the coolest-looking thing in the neighborhood, but they wear out faster than normal tires given the same amount of use. Your specialized sporty tires for your Mustang look sleek and modern, but they’ll burn out faster than touring models.

Before you invest in a new set of tires, make sure that you have the right type of tires to suit your driving needs. That way, you can maximize your mileage before you have to swap them out.

They Can’t Hold Air

Low air pressure in tires can cause some serious issues, especially during the summer. If you have tried everything you know to put air in your tires and the pressure keeps dropping, then it might be time for a tire replacement. There’s more than likely a hole, a cut, or a foreign object in the tire causing it to leak air.

How to Tell When to Replace Tires While Driving

Above, we discussed some of the visible and obvious signs that you need to see a mechanic or learn how to replace a tire. However, there are some ways you can tell that your tires need to retire while you’re driving. These signs include:

Losing Traction

Your car’s traction, or its ability to grip the road while in motion, is crucial to keeping you safe. This holds especially true in wet or icy conditions. So, if it feels like your back end is taking curves like a child takes a slip and slide, it might be time for a new set of tires.

Long, Rolling Stops

Your braking distance is another crucial piece to your safety on the road. Insurance claim adjusters keep their wallets full from tales of people who could have sworn that car was further ahead of them than it was. So, take notice of how long of a distance your car covers before it comes to a stop.

How far in advance do you feel like you have to pump the brakes to get the car to halt in time? If that distance has gone from a hundred feet to over a hundred and fifty, then it’s time to switch out those tires.

The Car Feels Harder to Maneuver

In general, you can feel the signs that you need to replace your tires before you can see them. Does it feel harder to steer the car than before, despite nothing being wrong with your steering system? Do you feel like you have to sit with one foot hovering over the brakes? If so, then it might be time to check and replace your tires.

How Often to Replace Tires on an Average Vehicle

So, with extenuating circumstances out of the way, you may be wondering how often to replace tires on an average vehicle. The average driver will travel anywhere from twelve to fifteen thousand miles in a single year. So, most tires will last between three and five years before their tread becomes so thin that it needs to be replaced.

However, weather conditions and excessive use can reduce that lifespan. And, well, if you’re doing burnouts and donuts in parking lots, you can expect to pay for it in the cost of replacement tires. Even if you purchase wheels geared towards performance like those at

So, What’s the Critical Tread Depth?

We’ve spoken at length about tread depth as a metric for when to replace tires. As long as you have at least 2/32″ of tread, your vehicle will remain road legal, but it may not be safe to drive. Measuring at that small of a scale can prove tricky if you don’t have dedicated tools for it. So, how can you tell when your tire’s tread has outworn its welcome?

The classic penny test. Shove a penny with Lincoln’s head facing down into the tread. If you can see Honest Abe’s head above the tread, it’s time for a tire replacement. Otherwise, you can let it ride a bit longer if there are no other obvious issues.

Let’s Talk Tire Replacement Cost

So, you’ve recently realized that your tires have seen better days, and the time has come to replace them with a newer model. What can you expect to pay for your new wheels? The answer, as with almost anything in the car world, depends on the type of tire you’re getting.

While you can certainly cheap out and get off-brand tires online or at Wal-Mart, we all know that those tires will not last as long. If you spend $120 on one Michelin tire, you’ll get the same value as buying two of the off-brand $60 ones, since Michelin tires are among the best in terms of tread life.

The adage “you get what you pay for” absolutely applies when you’re buying tires.

If you don’t have some kind of warranty or insurance coverage on your tires, you can expect to pay anywhere between $60 and $250 per tire you’re replacing. Closer to $1000 if you get something dedicated to sports cars. So, before you buy your new tires, make sure to check in with your driving habits, mileage, and local weather conditions to ensure you’re getting the best tire for your needs.

Let’s Review What You Need to Know About Tire Replacement

Figuring out how often to replace tires can be tricky, especially with so much misinformation on the internet. However, as long as you’re checking your tread depth and swapping them out before they hit ten years of age, you should experience few issues.

Are you wondering how to replace a tire on your own, so you don’t have to pay a mechanic to do it for you? Or wondering where you can find the best deals on new tires? If so, check out our blog each day for more helpful and informative articles like this one!