The Impact of Tire Age on Performance and Safety: When to Replace Old Tires

The Impact of Tire Age on Performance and Safety: When to Replace Old Tires

Most people need to realize the importance of well-maintained tires for safety. You might have heard that a car must have an important safety feature: Anti Lock Braking System (ABS), Cruise Control, Lane-Keeping Assist, Backup Cameras, etc. But tires are also at the top of the safety list.

In other words, tire safety is vehicle safety. A worn-out tire is most likely to cause an accident. It will compromise traction, tire blowout, hydroplaning, fuel efficiency, braking distance, etc.

In this guide, we’ll learn why tire safety corresponds to vehicle safety and when you should replace old tires. 


Why Do Tires Matter?

First, let’s discuss why tires matter and how tire safety corresponds to vehicle safety. 

Tires are essential for maintaining traction and grip, allowing the vehicle to control various surfaces. There are different types of tires, each with its distinct tread pattern and material. These tires are designed for performance on the respective terrains they’re designed for. For example, mud-terrain tires maintain excellent grip in muddy conditions and allow extreme off-road thrills.

Highway terrain tires are designed for long, comfy rides. Tire traction prevents skidding, especially when braking and in slippery conditions like snow, rain, or ice. High-quality and well-maintained tires offer better vehicle control.

The tires are another factor in a car’s ability to take a corner and remain stable. The rubber materials in your vehicle affect the steering wheel’s response and overall maneuverability. Higher-rated tires designed for the best possible handling increase the vehicle’s stability level, reducing the chances of skidding, rollovers, or losing control. Precise handling is critical in emergency evasions or unexpected lane changes, where the correct response can be the difference between a safe drive and a potential accident.

Meanwhile, the tire’s sidewall’s stiffness, size, and design also determine how the car responds to the driver’s commands. A tire that will adapt well on highways might not be the best choice for off-road conditions. Hence, in addition to knowing your driving pattern, buying tires tailored to your driving needs is essential.

Furthermore, worn-out tires take extra bills out of your pockets for extra fuel. A tire can be less fuel efficient if it’s not well maintained. Under-inflated or poorly maintained tires account for additional rolling resistance, making the engine work harder and consume more fuel. It is essential to keep tire pressure in the recommended range and select fuel-efficient models for good fuel mileage.


Why are Old Tires Dangerous?

A worn-out tire will not give you any safety measures listed above. But if you think that’s all, think again. A worn-out tire can be the least wanted thing you want to have on your vehicle because;

Worn-out Tires Increase Braking Distances

Worn-out tires or deflated tires can also affect braking distances. They might even cause the vehicle to lose control and result in an accident. Even if the driver responded right on time by pressing the brake pedals, there could be a delay in stopping the distance. There also could be a skid, leading to a potential accident. In some cases, the tread can also separate from the tire during the skid, causing the vehicle to lose control.

Worn-out Tires are More Susceptible to Blow-outs

Furthermore, worn-out tires are more susceptible to blowouts and potentially catastrophic accidents. Tire manufacturers usually construct tires with a certain degree of puncture resistance, which can decline as the tire ages. A new tire can sustain a puncture without losing air. However, an aged tire tends to blow even if a needle pokes it.

Worn-out Tires Hydroplane Easily

Worn-out tires can hydroplane quickly. They have significantly reduced grip because they cannot retain their original strength, thus increasing the risks of dangerous skidding, particularly on wet roads.

Worn-out Tires Bear Less Load than Their Actual Load Bearing Capacity

Tires are also designed to suit different load-bearing capabilities. That’s one reason you’ll find various types of tires in trucks, cars, and motorcycles. If the tires are not well-maintained, they’ll cause serious issues, especially for load-bearing vehicles.

Worn-out Tires Lose Air Easily and Swiftly

Old tires are more prone to leakage due to various factors, such as rubber cracks, valve stem damage, or wheel rim corrosion. Even if there are no visible signs of damage, tires naturally lose air over time. This gradual loss of air pressure can lead to underinflation, which affects fuel efficiency, compromises handling, and increases the risk of tire failure.


When to Replace Old Tires

This guide’s second most crucial question is, “When to replace old tires?”

Although the best way to know if it’s the right time for a tire change is professional advice. First of all, find out the tire’s age. You can do this by examining the DOT code engraved on the sidewall. The last four digits of this code will give you information regarding the weight and year the tire was manufactured. For instance, if the last four digits of the DOT code are 0816, the tire was manufactured in the eighth week of 2016.

Once you have the tire age, you can access the user manual for recommendations. Individual brands have their own set of procedures or suggestions for tire change. Over time, the tire can disintegrate due to many chemical reactions, prompting a tire change. 

Alternatively, there can also be a mile range in your use manual. Tire specialists suggest changing tires every between 50,000 and 70,000 miles. However, individual brands have their mile range for tire changes.

Moreover, the tire depth can also give you an idea of whether you must change the tire. Maintaining sufficient tread depth is crucial for optimal traction, particularly in adverse weather conditions like rain or slippery roads. Regularly use a tread depth gauge to measure the tread; if it falls below the recommended levels, replace the tires promptly. Alternatively, you can use the coin method: take a coin and go to one of your tires. Insert the coin into a groove of the tire tread with Lincoln’s head (or the figure depicted on the coin) facing downwards, just like he’s diving. If you can still see the top of Lincoln’s head peeking from the tread, it’s time to consider replacing those tires.


Pro Tip – Elongate Tires Life

Here’s a pro tip: You can elongate a tire’s life by making small expenses. Conduct routine visual inspections, and if you spot any damage, fix it. Rotating the tire every 6,000 miles is also recommended, as this allows even wear and tear across all four tires and elongates tire life. Also, make sure your tires are always correctly inflated.



Remember, worn-out tires compromise traction and performance and pose significant risks, including increased braking distances, blowouts, hydroplaning, and reduced load-bearing capacity. 

Regular maintenance and timely replacement are essential for optimal tire performance and vehicle safety. Remember, a proactive approach to tire care enhances safety and extends your tires’ life, providing peace of mind on the road.