When should I replace my car tires?

Consumer Reports says to replace at 4/32 inch of tread (the Washington’s head test using a quarter). NHTSA points out the 2/32 is illegal, so replace at that point (the Lincoln’s head test using a penny). The tire stores say to replace at 6/32, but of course they would tell you to “replace monthly, or daily if possible”, that would be good for them. What do you think? (I’m inclined towards 4/32).

Going into winter months, I tend replace earlier (4/32 or above). Going into summer months, I might let them get below 4/32. Depending on your climate, you may have different preferences.

4/32 is a good point to replace if you actually check your tread yourself. If you don’t, maybe replacing them anytime you take the car in and they test less than 6/32 would be a better plan.

Check with a trusted mechanic if you’re not sure. Probably not at the tire shop. My mechanic does sell and install tires, but I use him for enough other stuff that I still trust him to give me advice on tires he will sell me.

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It actually depends on how many miles you drive a year if you don’t drive alot. Thread depth is for regular drivers. If you drive less than 5k per year then 7 years is the factory standard .


Did not know that. My RAV is 14 yrs old but has 62,000 miles. I commuted 20,000 the first year then bought high end Firestones. So that’s 42,000 for 13 years or ~3k yr.

Tread is still good, so should I think about that seven year standard?

The “industry” in “industry standard” are the people selling you the tires… :wink:

Heh, good point…

Good point, Lol. I’m sure some of that is true but do your own research. Since your tires are so old, I would inspect them for dry rot around the edges. If you don’t know what to for get a mechanic that You Trust to look at them. If you only drive in town and don’t do high speed interstate driving then maybe you just keep on going. These are my opinions only !

I wouldn’t drive on 13-year-old tires, no matter how much tread they have.

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Tire rubber succumbs to dry rot for two basic reasons; lack of use and exposure to sunlight.

When tires are used regularly the compounds in today’s tires will be released and helps to keep the rubber soft and pliable. When you store tires, on or off the car, the resins and oils in the rubber are not distributed and the rubber oxidizes and breaks down. Flexing of the rubber distributes those compounds and the tire will last much longer.

For similar reasons, sunlight will do the same thing to tires. It will cause the resins and oils in the rubber compounds on and near the exposed surface to break down and/or evaporate… Storing tires for long periods of time is bad and storing them in sunlight for long periods is the worst case.

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