How long does it take to get new tires?

Have you ever been around when your car is getting new tires🇧🇷 Maybe you just leave it for a general service and the tire change or rotation will be a small part of that service so you don’t know. The answer might surprise you.

In today’s blog, we tackle the central question: how long does it take to buy new tires? But we’ll also delve into why the tires need changing, what might make it go faster or take longer, and whether or not it’s faster just do it yourself.

Common reasons for needing a tire change

Let’s start by looking at all the most common reasons why people change their tires. This happens more frequently and frequently than you might think.

Excessive Wear

The first and most common reason for a change – or a rotation depending on the mileage and amount of wear – is the tire tread wearing down and becoming unsuitable for the road. It is a legal requirement that all tires maintain a minimum legal limit of 2/32 of an inch in the tread. This may sound like an obscure number, but it’s well established and easily tested as long as you have a penny with you.

For check at your own pace, take a penny and stick poor old Abe Lincoln’s head in the tire tread. The part of the coin you’re really looking at, however, is the line “In God We Trust” at the top, above President Lincoln’s head. If the words are completely obscured by the tire tread, you have at least 2/32 of an inch minimum. If the text is visible, you’re in trouble.

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Tears or Cuts in the Side Wall

Another cardinal sin that encourages tire changing is having tears or cuts in the sidewall of the tire. No amount of cutting, tearing or other serious damage is allowed to the sidewall. This is the main structure of the tire, and it has to be in perfect condition. So this type of damage means you need an immediate change.

Perforations and Explosions

Punctures can be caused by all kinds of sharp debris left on the road, including nails, glass, shards of metal, and more. Studs are probably the most common thing and can get fully embedded in the tire and start losing air before you even know it. The studs are small enough that you wouldn’t notice it was drilled right away, and it wouldn’t create much change in driving dynamics if it were flattened against the wheel. It is often too late and the damage has gone too far before finding it.

Winter is coming…or going

Drivers in some climates, such as the Midwest or Northeast, switch to winter tires when snow is starting to fall. Winter tires offer much superior traction and therefore allow you to more safely keep the vehicle on the road when driving simply cannot be avoided. Switching to winter tires means a change to all four tires.

You are going to the racetrack

Finally, this one may only apply to a minority of drivers, but it’s still an important reason to change your tires. If you have a car that you use as a day-to-day street legal car, but maybe also race on the weekend, you might have a set of racing tires, “slicks” to use on the track. That would mean switching to and from these tires every track day.

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changing tire

How long does it take to get new tires? Professional

NASCAR and Formula 1 fans should know that this level of professional tire changing is remarkably fast. NASCAR teams take around 8 seconds for a typical pit stop, while Formula 1 teams do even better. In 2019, during the Brazilian Grand Prix, Max Verstappen of the Red Bull team stopped for a pit stop where all 4 tires were changed in an impressive 1.82 seconds. You may find this hard to imagine, but seeing is believing🇧🇷

OK, but what about here in the real world? Interestingly, despite all of our technology advancing, it can take longer to change tires today than it did in the 1990s. The main difference is… all the technology. Tire pressure monitoring systems, new ways to balance tires and steering, internally mounted flanges and much more. At the professional level, you should wait around 45 minutes to replace all 4 tires, but that also includes balancing. The tire changing part should only take 15-20 minutes to complete.

Of course, how everything fits into the workshop schedule is also critical. They can change tires in the blink of an eye, but then leave the car for hours waiting for the alignment while they complete another urgent job or while they wait for another colleague to come do the alignment.

How about changing them yourself?

If you are changing tires yourself and assuming you already have the equipment and basic knowledge of how to do it, expect to finish dealing with all 4 tires in about 35-45 minutes as well. The difference though is that you wouldn’t get a balance during that time.

change the tires yourself

The slower time just comes from having to do everything yourself. If you had someone to help you do jobs like loosening or tightening nuts, for example, it could be faster.

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Tools and processes required for changing tires

Many are daunted by the process of changing a tire themselves, but the process is relatively simple. That said, it’s only simple when you’ve got the right equipment, a little knowledge, and a good helping of confidence to go along with it.

The minimum set of tools needed to complete the job includes a spare tire or new tires, depending on your situation and what you’re doing; one auto theft🇧🇷 tire iron🇧🇷 wheel chocks🇧🇷 alignment pins, extension bar, and your car’s owner’s manual, if possible. Additional useful items include gloves, an emergency triangle (when changing onto the shoulder), a flashlight and a wheel lock.

Important steps include:

  • Secure the car in place with the parking brake, put it in neutral and, if necessary, place wedges underneath
  • loosening the nuts
  • lifting the vehicle
  • Removing the lug nuts
  • Original tire removal
  • Fitting the new tire
  • Tightening the nuts

Professional equipment can usually do this faster because they have power tools for the nuts, lifts and cranes to lift the entire car and make removal and replacement quicker and easier, and so on.

Does wheel alignment always follow a tire change?

If you are replacing all 4 tires then wheel alignment is a good idea. Most often these days, alignment can be quickly checked using special machines. Changing a single tire usually doesn’t require any alignment checks, but it never hurts, especially if, as many mechanic shops do, you can get an alignment check as a free, included part of the deal. The process takes nothing away from your vehicle and new tires, and will tell you for sure that the alignment is good.

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