No matter how many miles you drive in a year, your tyres will need replacing at some point. The more miles you cover, the quicker they will need to be changed. As such, there's no set time for when you should replace your tyres, but a series of signs indicating you need new ones.

Knowing the hallmarks of tyre wear and tear will make every journey safer and could be the difference between you having an accident and being able to avoid a collision.

WHAT AFFECTS THE WEAR AND TEAR OF TYRES?

There are many factors that can affect how quickly your tyres will need to be changed. Your own driving style is the easiest to control. Driving fast will wear the tread more quickly, as will aggressive braking, accelerating and cornering. 

Extreme weather conditions accelerate tyre damage; soaring temperatures will heat the road up and could lead to cracks, whereas wet weather can directly wear the tread away. If you have a garage or enclosed parking space, this will help to increase the lifespan of your tyres. 

Tyre pressure is also an important factor. Make sure to keep your tyres at a suitable pressure. Tyres that are at a significantly lower pressure than their optimal rate will wear more quickly because they will flatten and more of the rubber will be in contact with the road, causing an increased amount of friction.

HOW CAN I CHECK THE TREAD?

There is a simple way to check whether your tyres are within the legal tread depth of 1.6mm. Take a 20p coin and put it into the main thread groove of the tyre.

If the outer ring of the coin's design is covered by the tread, then the tread is safe. However, if the coin's outer ring is not covered, then the tread is not deep enough and is illegal - you should replace that tyre immediately. 

HOW CAN I SPOT SEVERE TYRE DAMAGE?

The most effective way to spot tyre damage is to check them regularly which means at least once a month. The inspection will check the tread depth, tyre pressure and the condition of the sidewalls.

Ideally, before you start a journey, you should take note of the state of your tyres to see if they're deflated at all or if there are any obvious bulges or lacerations. 

Punctures are the most serious form of tyre damage and should be dealt with immediately. Fast punctures occur when you burst your tyre (by hitting a curb, for example) causing it to instantly deflate. A car with a burst tyre is not safe to drive. If this happens, you should pull over and put the spare tyre on; if you don't have a spare tyre, call your breakdown cover to take you to the nearest tyre shop to fit a replacement. 

A slow puncture occurs when a small breach in the tyre - which could be caused by a piece of debris stuck in the wall - leads to a gradual leak of air. Many drivers often carry on using a car with a slow puncture for a considerable time before getting the damaged tyre changed. This is not advisable. A slow punctured tyre will increase your probability of being involved in a road accident and should be changed as soon as you notice it.

Also make sure to check your tyres for 'blistering'. This is where excessive heat causes chunks of the rubber to sheer off and could lead to a puncture while you're driving.

Finally, look out for uneven patterns of wear, which can result from misaligned wheels, incorrect tyre pressure or excessive turning. This uneven wear will alter your steering and may also lengthen your braking distance.          

How often should you change your tyres?

TIPS FOR BUYING REPLACEMENT TYRES

When you inevitably need to buy new tyres, there are a few tips to get the best results:

  • Try to replace all four at once - even though this will be expensive, getting a full set of new tyres will provide optimum handling and control
  • Always replace tyres on the same axle at the same time - whether it's the front or rear, you should replace both of them to retain wheel alignment and ensure an even wear
  • Match them with the old tyres - try to get the same brand, load capacity and tread pattern as the ones you're replacing
  • Keep the same speed rating - especially if you're not replacing all four at once, otherwise some of your tyres will be capable of higher speeds than others

Your tyres are the only part of the car that comes into contact with the road, so it's crucially important to keep your tyres in the best possible condition to improve your safety and the safety of other road users.