How Dangerous is it to Drive Around with Old Tires?

old cracked tire

Tires provide the necessary grip while driving. With continued use, the threads wear out and this can reduce the traction between the car and the road.

Driving with old and worn tires is extremely dangerous – especially if you are driving at high speeds

Extremely hot weather has a negative effect on the tires. It is recommended to change the tires after 6 years. You can do this earlier if you have had more punctures or are on the road a lot.

Signs that you need new tires

1. Check the tread depth

In most countries, the legally required minimum tread length is 1.5 mm. However, you should replace your tires before they reach the legal limit. One of the main causes of unbalanced tread wear is incorrect tire pressure. Make sure that the tire is cold when you inflate the car with pressure. Air is inflated under hot conditions.

There are several ways to measure the tread length of a tire. First of all, you can use a measuring device. If you don’t have one, there is a method that must have been around for many years – the Lincoln Penny. Insert the coin into the tire gap upside down. If you find that the whole head is visible, you can continue to use the tires. However, if you cannot see the head, you must change the tire.

2. Treadwear indicators

For some tires, you will have tread wear indicators. These show you the minimum length of tread wear. Most modern cars have this already built-in. The bars are visible on new tires, but they will soon disappear again as tire consumption increases. If you can see the tread wear indicators, your tires have outlived their purpose.

3. Sidewall cracks

The sidewall is more sensitive when compared to the treads on the top of the wheel. Holes in the sidewall are difficult to repair and signal the need for a new tire. You can make a physical inspection of the sidewall for visible cracks. It is dangerous to drive a car with sidewall cracks because it can explode at any time.

4. Bulges on the tire surface

tire damage

In some cases, you will find that your car tire has developed bulges. This can be seen on the outer surface – especially on the sidewall. This is very dangerous as they can cause tire damage at high speeds. You will notice that the car vibrates when you drive on a slippery road. Not all car vibrations are the result of a worn tire. Sometimes your wheels may be misaligned. In addition, engine vibrations exert undue pressure on the wheels of a car.

5. Cracking tire rubber

Tires tend to crack under hot weather conditions. They also crack if you leave your car unattended for a long period of time. It is advisable not to wash the car with cleaning chemicals. If you are not going to drive your car for a while, cover it to protect the car paint and tires from UV light.

6. Tire warning light

These are more common in modern cars that have a warning light when the tire pressure is too low. In most cars, it appears as a U exclamation mark. In this case, drive to the nearest gas station and have your tire pressure checked. The mechanic can check for slow punctures or recommend a tire overhaul when the tires are completely worn out.

What do in case of tire blow out?

If your car tires show the above-mentioned signs, the probability of a tire blowout is very high. If you are driving at an extremely high speed, there is a high probability that the car will roll. If you have an unexpected puncture, hold the steering wheel firmly. This will give you some control over the car, which would otherwise steer to the side if the tire bursts.

Next, take your foot off the gas pedal. This should bring the car slowly to a halt. Avoid using the emergency brakes at this point, otherwise, the car will start rolling. When the car stops, use the hazard lights and change the tire. Most people often avoid changing the spare tire when changing a tire. In an emergency, the spare tire may be worn out just like the rest of the tires.

Driving conditions

The type of road you drive on has a direct influence on tire wear. If you constantly drive on a road with many potholes, the tires will take on a lot of pressure. Potholes are also filled with many sharp objects that cause punctures. You should also make sure that you buy your tires from reputable tire manufacturers.

A major cause of punctures is incorrectly inflated tires. Your tires may be either overinflated or underinflated. If the tire pressure is too low, the vehicle’s grip on the road is reduced. This leads to faster tire wear. Too high a tire pressure leads to excessive pressure on one side of the vehicle. For the correct tire inflation pressure, refer to the manufacturer’s manual. Make sure that all tires are inflated to the same pressure.


You need tires to drive your car. Like most car parts, however, they wear out. Tires wear faster because they are part of the car that is constantly in contact with the road. If you find that your sidewalls are cracking or your trend is below the legal limit, you need to buy new tires.

You can use a measuring device to test the trend height or use the Lincoln coin test. Worn tires are prone to punctures. Punctures at high speeds will cause the vehicle to roll. If you have an unexpected blowout, try holding the steering wheel.

Depress the foot pedal lightly while avoiding approaching cars. The car will gradually come to a halt and you should change the tire. However, you should constantly check your tires for wear before you have a puncture.

Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of MechanicBase. He has been working as a mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting. He has also been a motorsport (drifting) driver for over 5 years.