When Do Car Tyres Need Replacing - at The Wear Point (Nub) or as The Wear Point Approaches?

Hi all,

Here is the story in short form:

Wife books car in for service at a manufacturer branded dealership which we have not been to before, during the booking it is suggested she may need a wheel alignment. Wife calls me, I tell her it is strange they have diagnosed this requirement without ever having seen the car before - she declines the wheel alignment.

Wife drops car at dealership and asks they call me if any issues arise. Within 1 hour I receive a call advising I need 4 new tyres as they are at 0% "completely bald". I tell the technician I think he has my car mixed up with someone else's as I wash the car every week and am pretty sure the tyres are not bald.

Tech calls me back and says, yep 2 are at 0% and another 2 have about 5% (under 1mm of tread.)

I politely tell him I don't really want to buy new tyres.

Pick the car up and unfortunately they forgot to wash it, didn't attend to the maintenance item we requested and charge $450 for an oil change and fluid top up minor type service. But the walk me out to insist I need new tyres.

I am skeptical about the dealers motives based on my experiences with them, but am now concerned my tyres are dangerous ??

The wear nub is close to the top of the tread, but the tread looks to have 4mm or so of depth.

Is the nub the point at which one considers replacement or should one change tyres as the nub approaches?

Sorry not the best pics - but they may assist.



  • +5 votes

    It’s called upselling. Trying to get you to buy more than you want or charging you a lazy tax because you can’t be bothered either arguing or sourcing the stuff elsewhere.

    As for the tyres, can’t tell from the pics, but if your dealer mechanic says you need new tyres say thanks for that and go and buy them elsewhere. They don’t look too bad in the pics though.

    I’d wait for close to the wear point and then replace. Just because the centre of the tread is ok doesn’t mean the edges aren’t worn. Often one tyre might be unevenly worn and it’s worth replacing as a set.

  • +6 votes

    From the SA Gov website.

    Tyres fitted to a vehicle, which do not have tyre wear indicators, must have a tread pattern at least 1.5mm deep on all parts of the tyre that normally come into contact with the road surface. If the tread has worn down to any of the tyre wear indicators, or there is less than 1.5mm of tread depth on the tyre, the tyre is then considered to be unroadworthy.


      For visibility, in case anyone else wants to know about their state…


      Tyres should be replaced before the tread depth falls to 1.5mm. Most tyres have tread depth indicators as a guide

      NSW is the same. 1.5mm


      must have a minimum tread depth of 1.5mm at any point on the tread normally in contact with the road surface other than at tread wear indicators. Where tread wear indicators are provided the tread must not be worn to the extent that any tread wear indicator contacts the road surface.

      Victoria is similar with the only caveat being 1.5mm OR down to the wear indicator if it has wear indicators.


      Tyres do not have a tread pattern at least 1.5mm deep, other than at tread wear indicators,

      Qld. has the 1.5mm rules as well… (Rule 7.3 page 45)


    Simple compare your tire with a new tire — a search engine will help with that?

    • +1 vote

      Yes I have now seen a picture of a new tyre… I am now aware of what a new tyre looks like.


    Google "tread wear indicators" every road tyre has them - if the tread is down to them then you need to replace.

  • +6 votes

    That is plenty, a few burnouts left on those.

  • +7 votes

    I’d be more worried about the $450 for a minor service??

  • +1 vote

    Looks to be heaps of tread left to me.
    One other thing to consider is the age of the tyres, rubber does deteriorate so check your tyres manufacture dates (should be on the tyres themselves with year and week number)
    I go with replacing them every 5-6 years (unless treads are worn out first obviously) but maybe an expert can chime in.

  • +1 vote

    $450 for an oil change. That's $800/hr labour.

    Must be one heck of a mechanic.


    Looks like heaps of tread left. The small arrow pointing towards the tread on the shoulder of the tyre in the first pic indicates where your tread wear indicators. If you draw a line from this arrow to the other side of the tread your will find notches in the grooves. If the notches are flush with the tread, it's time to think about changing. Can't see the notches flush with the tread in the pics, so as I said looks like there is plenty left. Mechanic is having a lend of you!

    They look like Continental tyres to me?

  • +1 vote

    Thats why dealerships are called stealership.


    Another story of attempted upselling. Recently I had an SMS from the owning organisation of where I bought my car and had its last service (the free one at 3 months). The SMS said it's time for a service. I thought that strange as the car is only 6 months old. I checked and the service interval was 12 months or 15000km. Since my car is less than 3000km at 6 months I declined.

    The dealer owner was AHG who own a lot of new car dealerships. It's a way of putting more work through the workshop. Many people would just go along with it and fork out the $400 or so. The car is one that has a capped servicing charge for the manufacturer suggested services but I'll bet that doesn't apply to these extra ones.


    As has been said, you need to find the tread wear indicators on each tyre. Looks like you have one in shot on the first pic (the small triangle pointed towards the tread)
    Once they are flush with the adjacent rubber, the tyre is legally at it's minimum.
    So even with 1.6mm of tread left, it can correctly be called 'bald'
    Don't use that stealership again.


      the small triangle pointed towards the tread

      This is NOT the wear indicator. But all is not lost. These little arrows usually point to the wear indicators.

      You can (only just) see the tread wear indicators in this photo. I marked them out. The tyre looks like is could be close, but still not down to the indicators.

      OP's photos also don’t show the inside edge of the tyres, so they may be worn there.

      • -1 vote

        Jesus Christ - of course the triangle is not the TWI

        Yes, my post was not absolutely totally completely accurate. I stupidly assumed that people would realise that the the tread wear indicator would be housed inside the tread and was indicated to it's location by the triangle…..

        • +1 vote

          Calm down there, Captain.

          Not everyone on here is an expert on car tyres. I didn’t say you were wrong, it's just I wanted to clarify it for the people who may have read your post and thought, "oh, that little triangle is the wear indicator."

          Not everyone who reads this forum is a mechanic. Not everyone knows exactly what or where the wear indicators are.

          you need to find the tread wear indicators on each tyre. Looks like you have one in shot on the first pic (the small triangle pointed towards the tread)

          And neg all you like, what you said was misleading.


    If you're not sure, pop into a tyre place and get a second opinion. Most places (in my experience, ymmv) are honest.

    If not worn, theyll be able to give u a guesstimation on how long u got left before u should consider a change (unless uve got plenty of thread left)

    Secondly, if there is any feedback mechanism I'd use that to have a whinge about the service you received (even better if it's social media)


    You can use one of these to measure your tread depth remaining.

    As others have said, your tyres must have at least 1.5mm tread remaining across the face of the tyre, and there is usually a nub that runs across your tyre to indicate this. Wet weather performance deteriorates as the tread decreases though so I usually replace my tyres when they're down to 2.5-3mm tread remaining in the centre.

    Have a read of this recent tyre test that tested tyres worn down to 2mm in wet conditions if you want evidence of this. "Even compared with the average of all the new tyres, the worn tyres took nearly nine metres longer to stop in the wet."


    around 3mm here also.


    Many years ago I put my car in to be serviced and they claimed that they could not release my car to me until I had new tyres on it because they were unsafe. After some heated discussion they released my car to me.

    I later went to a reputable tyre store and was told they were perfectly legal and I'd get another approx. 15,000km out of them.

  • +3 votes

    4 weeks ago, the wife took her car in for a service. The tyres were put on for road worthy 4 weeks prior to that. She got a call telling her that the tyres were unroadworthy and needed to be changed (4 weeks old and maybe 600km old).

    It's the worst car they could have done this too because I am in the trade. I bought the tyres and the receipt was still in the glove box. I ripped the service advisor a new one. I ripped the service manager a new one, then I ripped the dealer principal a new one when he came to see what was going on. They tried to take advantage of my wife and used things like "don’t worry about calling your husband, think of the children, it's your family's safety, what price is being safe?"

    As an ex-dealer service advisor and manager, this is the scum of the earth thing to do and is pushed by so many service departments. They want to sell you tyres and slap a hefty premium on it.

    If you go in for a service, ask what it will cost up front. Get that quoted and in writing. Say NO to all other work (unless it's warranty/recall/service action/free) and get them to note it and quote only on repairs. Take that list to an outside mechanic and get them to quote for the same work. Stealerships have massive overheads and greedy owners. Don’t pay for the owners 80ft luxury yacht or Porsche GT3…

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