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Service: (651) 490-6699
3360 Hwy 61 N, St. Paul, MN 55110
No tire lasts forever, and when a tire is ready to be done holding up 1,000 pounds of weight while rolling at 60 miles per hour, it can go out with a dangerous bang.
There are two main things you need to look out for: wear-and-tear, and damage points.
The gradual wear of all those miles eventually eat your tire down to a point where it can simply burst at any moment. Plus, even before tires get that far, worn-down tread can hydroplane in water or slush, or simply fail to grip in snow, leading you you ending up in the ditch or the opposite traffic lane.
You should check all of your tires regularly, so that you’ll know when it’s time to replace them. Here are some tips to help you decide! Our service department can also check your tires for you; just stop by for a visit.
Dangerous wear or damage
A good starting point to judge whether your tires are dangerously worn or damaged is the Minnesota state law that defines unsafe tires. That’s right, there’s an official definition! If you think one of your tires might fail one of these tests, you should probably replace it as soon as possible. For example, a bump in the sidewall probably means a weak spot that could burst without warning at any time.
A tire can pass these definitions, though, and still be unsafe, so if you’re not sure, it’s best to bring your car in to be checked.
Minnesota State Statute 169.723 defines a tire as unsafe if it has:
(1) Any part of the ply or cord exposed; or
(2) Any bump, bulge or separation; or
(3) A tread design depth of less than 2/32 (1/16) of an inch measured in the tread groove nearest the center of the tire at three locations equally spaced around the circumference of the tire, exclusive of tie bars or for those tires with tread wear indicators; or
(4) Been worn to the level of the tread wear indicators in any two tread grooves at three locations; or
(5) A marking “not for highway use,” or “for racing purposes only,” or “unsafe for highway use;” or
(6) Tread or sidewall cracks, cuts or snags deep enough to expose the body cords.
“Tread” is the pattern on your tires that pushes water, slush, mud, and snow out so the remaining surface area has better contact with solid road. It also pushes against the mud/slush/snow, although as all Minnesotans know from spinning out in deep snow, these softer materials are not very effective at helping your car move forward.
Legally, your tires must have a minimum of 2/32″ of remaining tread depth. A simple way to measure is with a penny. If the tread extends over the top of Lincoln’s head, then it is within legal limits. You can also pick up a tread depth gauge for a couple bucks at an auto parts store and keep it in your car.
In addition, a tire can become damaged in way that’s hard to notice, but can burst or go flat suddenly while you’re driving.
Safe minimum tread depth
For safety reasons, we recommend these minimum tread depths to keep you on the road and out of the ditch.
- at least 4/32″ of tread depth on summer or all-season tires in “summer” conditions (45 degrees or higher)
- at least 4/32” of tread depth on winter tires in “winter” conditions (less than 45 degrees)
- at least 6/32″ of tread depth on all-season tires in “winter” conditions (less than 45 degrees)
Don’t drive with summer tires in the winter, or winter tires in the summer!
Winter tires can usually be used safely longer than all-seasons thanks to their unique rubber compound and winter-specific design characteristics.
If you’d like to have your tires checked, visit our service center.
To schedule an appointment for new tires (typically just 1-2 days out), call our Service center or learn more here.
Be sure to pay attention to your tread depth, so that you know when it’s time for new ones. And make sure that you’re storing your winter tires properly during the summer months!