Unless you drive like Craig Lowndes, the general rule is to replace your tyres every three to four years, or 30,000 to 50,000km.
If you think you can get away with leaving it for longer (as many do!) you might get a rude shock soon as the Federal Government is looking to introduce a law that requires tyre replacement every five years based on a tyre’s date stamp.
In saying that, many car owners actually need to replace their tyres sooner. Tyre wear and tear depends on your driving style, the conditions you are driving in and how well they’re looked after.
For poor conditions, you would typically expect to replace your tyres every 15,000 to 30,000km (every one to two years), whereas in great conditions you’d be looking at more like 60,000 to 75,000km (every four to five years).
During your routine service your mechanic should recommend tyre replacement when needed. However, to ensure you’re not getting ripped off and replacing your tyres unnecessarily, it’s a good idea to arm yourself with some basic knowledge to stress test what you’re being told.
Method 1: Tyre wear indicators
These days a tyre wear indicator is built into all new tyres. The indicator is a series of small square bumps on the rubber between the tread. When your tyre tread is at the same height as the indicators, then it’s time to change your tyres.
Method 2: Matchstick test
If you can’t find the tyre wear indicators, you can use the tried and tested matchstick method. Simply insert a matchstick, head down, between the tyre tread. If the match head is exposed above the tyre, then it is time to change your tyres.
What to buy & why you shouldn’t skimp
If it is indeed time to replace your tyres, the it’s likely that more than one type of tyre will suit your car. So, which one do you choose? While the cheapest tyres may be tempting, the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is true. When it comes to tyres, safety and handling on the road is key, rather than cheap and cheerful. Luckily, due to improvements in technology and manufacturing, even the price of the best quality tyres have reduced significantly over recent years. For example a Toyota Rav4 tyre cost $250 in 1999 and $130 16 years later. So, given the cost of tyres is now cheaper (in most cases) and a good quality tyre improves your braking ability and handling, choosing quality tyres should be a no brainer.
And yet… And yet… as mechanics, we replace tyres all the time as part of regular servicing and most people come back to price. Please don’t make this mistake. Spend a little bit extra for the safety of yourself, your family and anyone else you might be traveling with.
Taking cost out of the equation, the next thing to look at is your car’s load-to-weight rating. You will find this in your logbook or on the tyre placard on the inside of one of your front doors. Any tyre within that specification will be fine. On the other hand, going under your weight-to-load rating will likely void your vehicle’s insurance policy.
Your tyre shop and/or mechanic should be able to recommend a suitable tyre based on your budget, your driving conditions and your driving style. The main thing to consider is that, typically, the more expensive the tyre, the quieter it is on the road, the better it handles in the rain, the quicker it is to brake, and the longer it lasts.
As a general rule spend the money on the known brands (Bridgestone, Michelin, Dunlop, Goodyear, Pirelli) on the upper end of the load-to-weight ratio weighting indicated by your logbook and/or recommended by your mechanic for maximum safety and performance.
The finish line…
Do your own checks to know when you need to replace your tyres and if you do, buy quality.