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Answering the Top 10 Tire Questions

Driving your car should be safe and enjoyable. Replacing your old tires when it’s time will improve both experiences. The decision to buy new tires can lead to many questions, and the experts at Pep Boys are here to help answer them.

1. When is it time to buy new tires for my vehicle?

Tread wear is the top reason for needing to replace your car tires, as any tread depth that is 2/32” or less is considered unsafe. Some tire manufacturers will include tread wear indicator bars on their tires to make identifying wear easy. If these are visible, your tires should be replaced.

If your tires don’t have tread wear indicators, performing a visual inspection of your tires, along with taking the penny test, is a good place to start when deciding if it is time to shop for replacements. If you are still unsure, a Pep Boys professional technician can help you determine if you need new tires and provide replacement recommendations as well.

Other reasons to replace your old tires.

  • Uneven tread wear.
  • Damage to or near the tire sidewall that is unrepairable.
  • Bulges and/or blisters on the tire sidewall.
  • Excessive vibration when driving.
  • Tire age

2. Can I replace just one tire at a time?

We recommend buying four tires at the same time because the tread design, depth, and type will all match. Having four matching tires on your car will improve its safety, balance, stability, and handling while driving. However, if you experience a blown tire and the other three tires still have plenty of tread remaining, purchasing a replacement tire is usually an option. You may also consider purchasing two tires and having them placed on the same axle. If you buy two tires, have them installed on the rear wheels of your vehicle and then have them rotated at your normal intervals. We recommend checking your owner’s manual, because some manufacturers recommend always replacing all four tires at the same time.

3. When should I replace my spare tire?

Rubber degrades over time, so even if you haven’t used your spare tire, check its age to determine if it should be replaced. Your vehicle owner’s manual should have information about replacing your spare tire, but generally the lifespan of a tire is about six years. To check your tire’s age, locate the DOT code on the sidewall. The last four digits of the DOT code are the tire’s week and year of manufacture.

4. Are all tires the same

No, all tires are not the same. Tires are engineered with specific goals and functions in mind, causing them to differ in their tread, sidewall, footprint, size, and even type. An all-season tire, for example, will differ greatly from a mud or snow tire. Tire manufacturers often have multiple tire lines designed for different budgets, driving habits, locations, and more. Even the same brand and line of tire can have differing speed ratings, load indices, and features. These designs are in place to ensure you are buying the right tire for you and your vehicle.

5. What size tires were originally with my vehicle?

There are multiple ways to check the size of your originally equipped tires. You can check the placard on your doorjamb, which is located under your driver’s front door, or consult your owner’s manual. A Pep Boys associate can also confirm the size of your tires, should you prefer not to do it yourself.

6. How long do car tires last?

The lifespan of a tire largely depends on how it’s used and maintained. Constant driving for long distances and at high speeds or forgoing routine maintenance, such as rotating your tires, can shorten the lifespan. Weather plays a large role in tire deterioration as well, with extreme temperatures and exposure to sunlight potentially leading to rubber deterioration.

Other factors that can cause tires to lose their grip faster include driving an unaligned vehicle and/or on under- or over-inflated tires. Properly aligning your vehicle is an important measure in optimizing how long your tires last.

7. How can I make my tires last longer?

Proper care and maintenance will help you to get the most life out of your tires. Here are some simple ways to maximize the life of your tire tread.

  • Have your tires rotated at the intervals suggested in the vehicle owner’s manual.
  • Monitor your tire pressure regularly and keep your tires properly inflated.
  • Schedule car alignment checks two times a year.
  • Keep your wheels properly balanced.
  • Avoid fast starts and hard braking
  • Don’t speed excessively.

8. Do I really need snow tires, or can I use all-season tires in the winter?

Snow tires are great for drivers who live in areas where the temperature routinely stays below 45°F in the winter and typically drive through snow, ice, and sleet. Snow tires have many features, including tread and grip patterns designed to combat winter elements by moving them away from your tire. This maximizes the tire's grip on the road. They are constructed with softer rubber than other tires, which allows them to be more flexible and conform to the road better than other tire types.

All-season tires are designed to perform in both the summer and winter months, and they can handle rain and some snow with adequacy. For drivers living where temperatures don’t routinely fall below 45°F and snowy weather is minimal, they can perform well in winter months.

9. How much air should I put in my tire?

The amount of air that your tire needs can be found on the sidewall of the tire, on the doorjamb placard, or in your owner’s manual. Tires lose about a pound of air pressure per month, so regularly checking their pressure is important, as a properly inflated tire helps to maintain its life. Air pressure also fluctuates with the weather, as cold temperatures will lower your air pressure and warmer weather will cause it to increase.

Tires that are improperly inflated can be at greater risk of blowout, handle sluggishly, take longer to stop, wear unevenly, and can cause your gas mileage to drop. Take the time to make sure your car tires are properly inflated.

10. Why do I need to rotate my tires?

Rotating your tires can prolong their lifespan by helping to promote even tread wear, which can improve fuel efficiency and give you a smoother ride. We recommend that you add a tire rotation to your regular oil change service or consult your owner’s manual for recommendations.

Whether you’re new to buying tires or a seasoned veteran, Pep Boys is here to help you answer your tire related questions. Visit our Treadsmart section to learn even more about tires; it might even answer questions that you didn’t know you had! Additionally, our ASE-certified technicians can answer any questions you might have, and help you select the best tires for you and your driving needs.