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Created on 15.06.2022

When do I have to change my tyres? Useful things to know about tread, tyre age and weather conditions

Tyres in good condition ensure the necessary traction when driving. But when is it actually time to get new tyres, and what are the consequences of driving on tyres with worn tread, are too old, or are not suitable for the weather conditions?

Use this self-check on your tyres to find out whether they still have enough grip or whether it’s time for new ones. Tread and age both play an important role in this decision.

Tyre tread depth: Do my tyres still have the minimum tread depth?

Regardless of whether you are driving on summer tyres, winter tyres or all-season tyres, by law you may only drive on tyres with a minimum tread of 1.6 millimetres. TCS and ADAC recommend replacing summer tyres at 3 millimetres and winter tyres at 4 millimetres. Worn tyres impair driving performance and increase the risk of causing an accident. You are also at risk if your tyres are worn unevenly. This means they are not roadworthy. Both the tread depth and the wear can be checked in the garage.

Tip: This is how to check your tyre tread depth yourself

Place a two frank coin in the grooves of your tyre. If the base of Helvetia is no longer visible, the tread is deep enough. The tread then has a depth of around 4 millimetres and you are on the safe side. Repeat the self-test at several places around the tyres and test the tread depth not only in the middle of the tyre but also on the outer tread grooves, where the tyres usually show the most wear.

Checking tyre age: Are my tyres already too old for the road?

Besides tread depth, tyre age also has an impact on the safety properties of a tyre. This is because, over time, the rubber compound hardens, so the tyre loses elasticity and becomes brittle. As a consequence, adhesion decreases significantly when conditions are wet. The law doesn’t stipulate a maximum age for tyres. However, TCS recommends not using tyres that are more than eight years old – even when the tread is still deep enough.

Tip: Read the age of the tyre directly on the tyre

You can find out the age of your tyres yourself by checking the DOT code, which is printed on the side of the tyre. “DOT” stands for “Department of Transportation” and refers to the manufacturing date. The first two digits are the calendar week, the third (and from the year 2000 , the fourth) digits are the final digit(s) of the manufacturing year. For example, a DOT code that ends with 0720 shows that the tyre was produced in the seventh calendar week of the year 2020 .

You can read the age of your tyre from the DOT code on the tyre. The tyre in the picture was produced in the seventh calendar week of the year 2020.

Summer and winter tyres: Am I using the right tyres for the season?

These is no legal obligation to use winter tyres in Switzerland. But be aware that if you are driving on a snowy road on summer tyres and cause an accident, you can be held accountable. So switch to winter tyres as temperatures drop and exchange your winter tyres for summer tyres only when snow and black ice are no longer expected. You should also bear in mind that in most neighbouring European countries, there is a legal obligation to use winter tyres, and you can be fined for non-compliance.

Tip: Don’t miss the moment to switch tyres.

A rule of thumb for tyre changing is “From E to O” – from Easter to October on summer tyres and then switching back to winter tyres. But be aware that this is just a rule of thumb. The optimum time varies according to region and climatic conditions. When the temperature falls below 7°C, it’s definitely time to put on winter tyres.

By the way, all-weather or all-season tyres are allowed in Switzerland but it’s vital to carefully weigh up the advantages when purchasing tyres (such as no costs for changing tyres at the garage) and disadvantages (such as longer braking distances on summer tyres, less grip compared to winter tyres and faster wear).

Good to know: Appropriate tyres prevent difficult conversations

Whether it’s a matter of tread, age or weather conditions, you’re only safe on the road if you drive on correct tyres. You’ll also avoid difficulties with insurance and the police. If you cause an accident because of unsuitable tyres, bear in mind that you’ll lose benefits or a right of recourse with your insurance, you may be fined, and the police may even withdraw your driving licence.

Safe driving with the correct tyres: Quick tips

  • Exchange your old summer tyres for new ones at a groove depth of 3 millimetres and your winter tyres at 4 millimetres.
  • Ask your garage to check whether the tyres are worn on one side.
  • Replace your tyres if they are more than eight years old.
  • Fit your car with summer or winter tyres at the appropriate time.

Always the right choice: Drive safely with PostFinance car insurance

With PostFinance car insurance you are always safe when driving and you enjoy these benefits:

  • You configure your insurance protection individually at a fair price.
  • You can arrange your insurance in just a few minutes online.
  • Your premiums do not change automatically if you make a claim.
  • There is also a three-month cancellation period – even within the contract term.
  • You have access to your data via the online cockpit.
  • With the CO2 option, you can also offset your CO2 emissions per kilometre of travel.
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