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# Tire Change and Fitting

Breaking in new tires

What you need to know about driving with new tires

New tires take a little bit of gentle breaking in. Discover why – and how to drive on new tires to optimize performance and safety.

Just driven a new car off the lot? Or perhaps you’ve got new tires, fresh off the manufacturing line, to replace your well-worn set?

Before you hit the gas to see what those new tires can do, there’s something you should know: just like a new pair of shoes, new tires need to go through a breaking-in period before they can drive at their best. Discover why and follow our tips to help safely ready your new tires for long-term service.

What’s different about new tires?

There are a number of factors that will make your new tires perform a little differently to your older ones.

Lubricants. During manufacturing, a release lubricant is used to help remove tires from their molds. This substance remains on the tread until it wears off on the road. Before it has completely worn off, it could reduce your traction.

Antioxidants. These are applied to help keep the tire rubber from breaking down when exposed to environmental factors such as fluctuating temperatures and oxygen. They may make tires feel slick at first.

Tread depth. New tires will naturally feature maximum tread depth. This fresh tread is stiff, smooth, deep, and could feel like unyielding, thick cushioning between you and the road at first. This may lead to something called squirm.

What is “squirm?”

Tread squirm, or tire squirm, is a little bit of excess movement you might feel when steering a vehicle that has recently been fitted with new tires. This movement comes from the flexibility in the rubber between the tread surface and the carcass.

For comparison:

  • Slick racing tires – with no tread – have little to no squirm.
  • Snow tires – with deep tread – have a large amount of squirm.

Isn’t new, deep tread a good thing?

You’d think so. But actually, it works better once it has spent some time on the asphalt getting slightly roughed up. Once this has happened, tires are able to exert their optimal gripping and handling capabilities.

How do I break in new tires?

Focus on easy, gentle driving – smooth acceleration, braking, and cornering – for the first 500 miles. This will safely prep your tires for regular performance. After this amount of use, lubricants and other substances used in the manufacturing process will have completely worn off.

What to do:

  • Keep to dry roads, if possible
  • Drive at moderate speed
  • Leave a larger gap between you and the vehicle in front, as your braking distances may be longer.

What not to do:

  • Accelerate sharply
  • Slam on the brakes, if you can avoid it.

Lubricants used to mount the tire to the wheel could cause some tire/rim slip if you floor it or slam on the brakes – so avoiding doing either of those things for the first few hundred miles is particularly important.

An adjustment period for tires – and drivers

Even if you’ve refitted your car with the same brand and model of tires you previously had, you might notice a difference in how driving feels. It’s likely your old tires had very little tread depth by the time you replaced them. Tires with very little tread tend to respond quicker, because there’s less tread that needs to flex during maneuvering. So, new ones might feel slightly less responsive before they’re fully broken in.

As well as enabling your tires to adjust and start performing at their best, a gentle breaking in period will give you a chance to adjust to your new tires, too.

Gentle breaking in, followed by ongoing care

Go easy on those new tires for a while, and they’ll reward you with long, reliable service. To help ensure this, even after this breaking-in period, it’s recommended that you conduct regular tire health checks. Look out for:

  • Sufficient tread depth
  • Correct inflation pressure
  • Any signs of wear or damage

Well-maintained tires will deliver top driving performance and keep you safe on the road.

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