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My tires need to be replaced, but the tires I want need to be ordered and could take up to a week.

I took my car to the shop 2 weeks ago and I was told that my tires need replacing. I checked them myself and indeed they need to be replaced.

Since then however I haven't replaced my tires and it could be another 2 weeks before replacement.

I drive my car about 40 miles a day commuting to and from work.

Should I worry about driving my tires during these 2 weeks or are they still safe to drive on? Note that during these 2 weeks it is possible that I will be driving in rainy weather.

  • Can you use alternative transports? Car share to work with a coworker until yours is available? Bus/train/tram/bike in the meantime? Trying to think of an alternative solution to your immediate problem. – Criggie May 7 '16 at 7:38
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As long as you don't have "threads" showing through the rubber, you should be OK. Be aware that you do have less traction, and need more time for braking, but you're not on borrowed time until the belts show. Rain will be an issue, but if you know your car is under-performing a lot of the danger is taken away.

That said, drive defensively. Leave yourself an out in case a tire does loose pressure rapidly, drive slower, and just be careful in general.

The fact that you know your tires are bad, and you have some on order is a lot better than many people that drive until the tire is completely bald and they either notice when it's time for an inspection or the tire stops holding air.

On re-reading this, it may come across as "don't worry about replacing the tires until the belts are showing"... I'm not saying that. For sure, replace your tires when they are under 2/32" as soon as you can.

  • 2
    I like this answer as being the least alarmist. Note that tires will gradually lose wet weather traction as the tread is worn away. It's not a "cliff function" where you have 100% traction at 3/32" depth, and 0% at 2/32". Compare that to when the cords are showing, and you can go from a working tire to a blowout at any moment. – Tom Penny May 6 '16 at 21:25
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    I'm not downvoting this answer, but considering the OP said, "...I will be driving in rainy weather," and this answer says, "...you should be OK," I consider it, at the very least, reckless. Yeah, I know...@JPhi1618 goes on to qualify the answer, but it still seems reckless. – BillDOe May 6 '16 at 22:17
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    2/32" is some tread. It means that it's time to replace your tires, not that it's time to tow the car to the shop and wait for tires to get delivered. I agree that the tires are not the safest, but neither is 3/32" or 4/32". The OP is doing the right thing and we've told him what he needs to know. – JPhi1618 May 7 '16 at 3:05
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    2/32" seems to be the legal minimum in the US. 2/32" is 1.587mm, and 1.6 mm is the minimum in the EU. So authorities seem to agree the tires are just safe. As long as the OP drives carefully, especially in rain, and has already ordered replacements, there's no need to be alarmed. And 40 miles a day/400 miles in two weeks commute won't wear them down much more. +1. – Guntram Blohm May 7 '16 at 7:40
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How Long? No time left, 2/32 is recommended depth they should be replaced

Rain? You have a good chance of losing control of the vehicle if it hydroplanes on the water, and 2/32 does not leave much room for the tires to not hydroplane.

  • 2
    I don't know the US regulations, but the UK the equivalent metric 1.6mm is the minimum legal limit (and the penalties for 4 illegal tyres add up to an automatic driving license disqualification, plus a fine of up to £10,000). The usual UK "recommended" limit is twice as much tread (3mm). – alephzero May 6 '16 at 21:04
  • The UK legislation does state a maximum fine of £2500 per tyre, however this would have to be applied by a court. There is no such thing as an automatic ban. – Steve Matthews May 11 '16 at 7:47
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Rain or shine, I would never drive on tires with 2/32nds of an inch of tread.

Here are just some of the problems:

  • Your emergency stopping distance is greatly increased.
  • Your risk of out-of-control hydroplaning is greatly increased.
  • You are much more susceptible to road hazards going through the tread.
  • Your traction is reduced on all surfaces.*
  • Your ability to maintain control to avoid an obstacle is reduced.
  • Because of the above bullet points, the odds of getting in an accident are significantly increased.
  • In many places, you are subject to getting a ticket and getting fined. In some places, your drivers license can be suspended or revoked. Also, in some places, your vehicle can be impounded for being unsafe to operate. (This is especially true if your physical appearance does not match that of the law enforcement officer.)
  • If you get in an accident, your insurance company may try to not cover you, because you did not properly maintain your vehicle. To make matters worse, sometimes insurance companies will take "measurements" of your tires and claim they have even less tread. (A friend recently got in an accident, and the insurance company's "measurements" were 2/32nds of an inch less than the actual tread depth... lucky for my friend, I know how to measure tire tread depth and had access to their vehicle at the junkyard.)

Overall, in your case, it would be better to rent a vehicle or buy your second choice in tires.

I will disagree with the answer that advises just to "drive defensively". Although driving defensively is always a good idea, you can never account for all the idiots on the road with you (or the fact that all of us are likely one of those many idiots at one time or another... I know... "not me!").

Note that it's easy to check tire depth. Every tire shop will do it for free, or you can buy a tool to check it yourself. If you buy the tool, make sure to learn how to properly use it. There is also the "penny trick", but the tool is so inexpensive and much more accurate.

The best advice is to check your tires frequently for:

  • Tread depth
  • Bubbling
  • Sidewall wear
  • Sidewall cracking
  • Embedded items (rocks/nails/screws/glass)
  • Uneven wear
  • Discoloration
  • Damage
  • Defects
  • Damaged tire valves
  • Missing valve caps
  • Proper inflation

At the same time, you can check your wheels for:

  • Missing balancing weights
  • Loose balancing weights
  • Missing lug nuts
  • Loose lug nuts
  • Cracks or other damage

During your routine inspections, you will then notice the tires are getting down to 4/32nds of an inch of tread (or more tread, if the conditions warrant it). At that time, replace them promptly**. If you do this, you, and everyone else on the road with you, will be safer.

* Note that the TireRack article linked to by Moab (but not written by him, so it's not his fault!) is exceptionally misleading when it states: "A practical example of this is the racing slicks used on stock cars and open-wheel racers that provide traction at over 200 mph." Those racing slicks use different compounds and completely different ratios than your tires... In my opinion, TireRack's example is nonsensical, thoroughly misleading, and potentially dangerous.

** When you replace your tires, check the dates on each tire (embossed on the sidewalls) to make sure none of them are old stock. Also make sure the model number and size on each tire matches all the other ones.

2

Depends...how much is your life worth? If you're going to be driving in rainy weather and just cannot replace your tires, I strongly suggest renting a car. As @Moab indicates, it takes little water on the road to cause tires with a mere 2/32nds of an inch of tread to hydroplane. I seem to recall a Mythbuster episode where they showed that such a tire would hydroplane to the point of complete loss of control at just 35 mph. There are some things worth risking one's life over; this is not one of them.

Edit:At the very least I would watch your local weather reports, and if there's a good possibility of rain, I would work from home, take public transportation, or rent a car whichever was more reasonable, and continue doing so until the tires are replaced.

What are the odds that you could get away with driving on those tires unscathed? Probably pretty good. But I assume there are hundreds of others reading this same post, and I'd hate for anyone to assume that that implying they're safe driving on unsafe tires.

  • I would provide you a +1 if you could reference a link to that Mythbuster's episode. – Hᴇʀʙɪᴇ May 6 '16 at 21:21
  • @Darth_Vader, I've been looking for it...so far unsuccessfully. I know I saw it, though. – BillDOe May 6 '16 at 22:13
  • In addition to how much you value your own life, ask yourself how much do you value the life of others, and their children? Crashes often involve more than just one vehicle. When someone drives an unsafe vehicle, they are not just risking their own life, they are also risking the lives of everyone else on the road... including everyone reading this thread. – RockPaperLizard May 12 '16 at 6:24
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I am from a country that does not have regulations on the minimum tire tread needed for a vehicle to be on the road and we routinely drive well past the wear indicators until they resemble slicks. On dry roads there is no issues except for slight risk of blow out at highway speeds. On wet roads quite dangerous. Deadly at highway speeds. Drive on those tires in dry weather but find alternative transport in wet unless you are driving at around 40-50 km/h and dont take bends fast

  • I'm a retired lawyer in the United States. If I were to handle automobile collision litigation, I'd love to have a case where the other driver's car had worn tires that arguably caused a collision, and the other driver knew they were worn and drove on them anyway. – David Jul 13 '18 at 14:45

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