AutoApp Service Ambassador bringing car to tyre shop
01 October 2020
TYRED OUT? How to tell if your car needs new tyres

Don’t let those small, yet important rings of rubber get tyred out (heh). Your tyres are your only point of contact with the road!

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You’ve probably heard a friend or relative tell you that tyres should be changed regularly. They might have said every 3 years, or maybe after every 30,000km covered. Although this might seem logical, it’s not exactly true that your tyres need to be replaced at a fixed time or mileage interval.

Tyre wear depends on multiple factors, including weather, road conditions, and personal driving style, amongst others. Instead of replacing tyres using a time- or distance-based scale, the key determining factor that decides if a tyre should be replaced is tread depth. That’s the measurement from the base of your tyre’s grooves to the surface of the tyre.

Although tread depth is the key factor in determining if a tyre needs replacement, there are other factors to note. Here’s what you need to know!

Tyre Tread Depth

In a perfect world, the sun is constantly shines and the roads are always dry. In these conditions, a tyre tread actually reduces the level of grip, as it effectively shrinks the surface area of the tyre’s contact patch. However, the world isn’t perfect. Stormy weather and surprise puddles do happen.

In wet weather, the tyre’s tread plays a key role of dispersing water from the contact patch. This helps the tyre maintain contact with the road, effectively maintain grip on the tarmac so you’re still able to control the car.

Without tread, the tyre’s ability to grip wet tarmac becomes severely limited as a film of water between the tyre and the road has nowhere to go. You’ll find that it would be nearly impossible to stop, turn, accelerate, or control the car in any way.

Tyres work best on wet roads when they’re new with deep grooves or tread. This is because they’re able to disperse water most efficiently, through the sizeable drainage channels. However, as you drive, friction with the road wears down your tyres which reduces tread depth. This diminishes its ability to give the driver control on wet roads.

The loss of control on wet roads is known as aquaplaning or hydroplaning. This usually happens with worn tyres that have a low tread depth.

What a tyre needs is friction in order to do its job. However, the consequence of friction is that it also causes wear and tear as the mileage accumulates.

How much tread do you need?

Although Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) legally requires that all vehicles need to have a minimum tyre tread depth of 1.6mm, if you measure this out, you’ll see that it’s very, very short depth.

We don’t recommend you wait until it gets below 1.6mm before you decide on a new set of tyres for your car.

To check your tyre’s tread depth, use a tread depth gauge which is available at your accessories store. You can also look out for the tread wear indicator bars embedded at the 1.6mm mark – if the tread is flushed with the indicator bars, it’s time for new tyres!

Worn tyres with exposed tread wear indicators – AutoApp SG
Those bars that run horizontally to the tyre grooves are wear indicators. if the are level with the surface of the tyre tread, they need to be replaced.

As tyres play an important role in your car’s safety, AutoApp Service Ambassadors will always check the tyre tread depth after each job and make a recommendation to replace them if necessary. This is part of a complimentary 15-point car health check, for your convenience.

checking tyre tread depth with a digital gauge
AutoApp Service Ambassadors use a digital tyre tread depth gauge to measure the tread depth.

Tyre Damage

Tyres might require premature replacement in certain conditions. For example, when they’ve suffered damage. This is despite the fact that they still seem to hold pressure, as the structural integrity may have been compromised.

Damage can occur due to a variety of reasons, and it can happen without you being immediately aware that there’s a problem. For most drivers, the most common types of damage include cuts, tears, or bulges.

Tyre cuts or tears are the unfortunate result of external influences. This includes bad road conditions, protruding car bodywork, or sharp foreign objects on the road such as nails, stones or glass. The internal structure of a tyre could be compromised if it is been cut or torn.

Tyre bulges indicate that the tyre’s internal construction has been damaged. Hitting kerbs, potholes or road dividers at excessive speed or at odd angles can cause this. Due to the impact, the tyre carcass may have been overstressed and structural cords broken.

Tyre Age

The four digit indicate when the tyre was manufactured. In this case it was made on the
38th week of 2009.

Although we mentioned earlier that tyres do not need to be replaced by time intervals, there are exceptions. This is especially true for less-often used cars such as off-peak cars (OPC) or classic vehicles.

Over time, tyres will begin to harden and oxidise, unless unused and stored in a dry location away from sunlight and heat. Oxidation occurs when oxygen reacts with the compounds in the rubber, causing them to become brittle with age.

Manufacturers recommend that tyres older than ten years old be replaced, even if they appear to have plenty of tread depth. With age, tyres can get stiff and get brittle. This causes tiny cracks that are barely visible to form on the tread and sidewall, significantly reducing grip.

Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Many new cars come with a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Some claim that a TPMS can alert you when it’s time for new tyres – but that’s actually false.

The purpose of a TPMS is to alert you when there’s a sudden drop in tyre pressure, indicating that there may be a puncture, which could create unsafe driving conditions. Don’t panic if the TPMS light is illuminated. The system is merely notifying you of a loss of pressure due to underinflation or leakage.


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