How long do tires last?

Editor: Ilkka

Last updated: May 10, 2022

Select Dynamic field

Tire contributes to the overall comfort and safety of every vehicle while driving. A good tire will give good grip and traction to drive safely so long they’re fitted to the right vehicles and used on the recommended terrain or weather condition. 

No wonder manufacturers of sporty and even regular cars ensure a quality tire comes as standard equipment in their vehicles.  However, someday, they will need to be replaced; they don’t last forever.

So how long do tires last? It’s important you know this to avoid driving on unsafe tires.

How long do tires last?

How long a tire lasts depends on the manufacturer’s recommended time. Every tire manufacturer builds tires with a particular time frame in mind, and this is what guides the quality of materials they use. Going by most manufacturers’ warranties, most tires are expected to last 3-6 years.

Others like Michelin and Continentals suggest that a tire can last ten years so long you keep up with yearly inspection after the 5th year.

However, aside from what quality of materials or engineering pattern tire makers utilize, how you use your tires impacts your tire’s life. This includes maintenance, driving patterns, and driving conditions. 

Factors that influence tire wear

Many factors play a huge role in how long tires last. Some of which include:

1. Tire manufacturer

Every tire manufacturer has a specified time they expect their tires to last, which channels them to the quality of materials and technology employed. According to the tire manufacturers association, most tires are built to last 60k miles. Other tires are built to last 30k miles.

Some even come with a manufacturer warranty of up to 80k miles; others 85k miles. This is a way of reflecting confidence on a particular product’s longevity based on materials and engineering patterns used. 

The type of tire also impacts tread life. High-performance tires will usually wear faster than family car tires.

Plus, summer, all-terrain, winter, and all-season tires have different treadwear ratings, so their life expectancy differs.

2. Vehicle you’re driving

If you go to review sites where users are meant to tell their experience with a certain tire, you will be marveled at the conflicting reviews you will see. Some good, some bad. But research shows that sometimes, many of these bad reviews are drivers who did not outfit their vehicle with the right tires. Even vehicle manufacturers are guilty of this.

A good example is using a Sedan tire for an SUV or truck. A truck or SUV is heavier than a Sedan; this means the tires are likely to wear faster because of the extra weight the tire is carrying. If you do this, chances are your tires won’t last even if they are made with quality materials and well-engineered.

Changing tires for SUV
SUVs tend to be heavier than passenger cars, which results in faster tire wear.

3. Manufacturing defects

There are situations where two different cars are outfitted with the same tires and driven under the same conditions, but one wears out faster. Chances are the tires were faulty from the factory before fixing it in the vehicle. This is very common among original equipment tires in a new vehicle.

Manufacturing defect on a tire
Manufacturing defects on a tire may damage the tire in a big way. This is nowadays quite rare.

4. Driving style

Push your tires too hard and see how fast they wear. Subjecting your car to harsh acceleration, sudden braking, heavy weight, and aggressive driving over bumps, portholes, or any road imperfection will damage your tires quickly.

That said, the number of miles you put in yearly will tell how long your tires last. By estimation, most drivers drive 12-15k miles yearly; manufacturers have this in mind when making tires. However, the federal highway administration notes that some individuals drive more or less. The more miles you put, the higher the chances that your tires will wear quickly.

Car driving on a track
Using your car on track days can wear tires almost immediately.

5. The region you live in

Tires are built for different road conditions. So using them for the right application can extend tire life. For example, If you live in cold regions, it is important you get all-season, snow, or winter tires. 

Likewise, if you drive on rough terrains, get a tire suited for it. You won’t drive a summer tire regularly in ice and expect it to last; it won’t. The reason is the tires can not withstand those conditions and, as such, are prone to fast or uneven tread wear.

6. Car & tire maintenance

Your tire, like other parts of your car, needs proper maintenance. Regular tire rotation, alignment, or wheel balancing can prevent fast and uneven tire wear. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to get the recommended amount of tire pressure as well as proper time to rotate tires.

However, as a general rule and across many review platforms, it’s recommended to keep tires rotated every 5-7k miles or during every oil change. 

7. Air pressure

To ensure your tires last as long as possible, it’s crucial to always have the correct air pressure on them. Both too low and too high air pressure will affect the tire life drastically.

It’s suggested that you check your air pressure weekly or on a monthly basis depending on how often you drive and refill if needed. Better still, consult your owner’s manual. Also, remember to check for sidewall damage and the amount of tire tread remaining.

Tire wear with wrong tire pressure
Using too high or too low pressure on tires will lead tires wearing faster than they should.

Knowing when to replace tires

Here are some factors to guide you as regards when to change tires.

Low tread depth

Tread loss is visible; sometimes, you could see the tire’s tread pulling off the tire. If this goes on for long, it results in low tread depth. Here, your tires are already dangerous to drive; please swap with new tires. To be certain, use the penny test to check the health of tire tread. 

Tire wear with wrong tire pressure
Check the indicators on your tires regularly to see if you still have enough tread depth. This tire still has some tread left, but should be replaced soon. Remember that having too low tread depth on tires can be very dangerous, and it’s always better to replace tires too soon than too late!

Rough rides

If your vehicle starts vibrating too much or road noise becomes progressively loud, chances are your tires are out of balance, wearing unevenly, or have alignment issues. They are not safe to be driven in this condition; take them to a tire shop to have them checked by a professional. If there is a need to replace them with new tires, you will be notified.

Age

Most manufacturers do not exceed a six-year warranty, which means they expect all tires to be replaced after that time. So even if your tires still have lots of tire tread but have exceeded the expiry date, please change them. This is one reason you should check for manufacturing date when making a purchase

When a tire is past the manufacturer’s recommended time, the rubber compounds in the tire deteriorate, leading to dry rots–one cause of tire blowout and separation of tread from the tire.

Many manufacturers suggest replacing tires 6-10 years old regardless of how much tread is remaining. Your spare tire isn’t left out, too; look out for the production date because you might be moving around with a spare tire that has long expired.

Cracked old tire
Using too old tires may result in cracks & blown tire. Remember to replace old tires even if they are not worn out.

How old are your tires?

Most manufacturers recommend changing tires after 6-10 years. So knowing the manufacture date of your tire will help determine its age. The US Department of Transportation requires that all tires have their production date written on the tire’s sidewall. So how do you know the age of your tire?

How to determine the age of a tire

Every tire has a tire identification number. To determine the age of a tire, look for its U.S department of transportation DOT number written on its sidewall. These numbers are usually the last four or three digits of the tire identification number.

Those manufactured after the year 2000 have a 4-digit dot code. The first two represent the week of production, while the last two represent the year. Technically, a tire with a dot number 4420 means it was produced the 44th week of 2020.

Tires made before 2000 usually come with a three-digit dot code. The first two digits mean the week of production, while the last means the year in a decade. You shouldn’t even have such tires in your car, as they are long due for replacement.

Tire DOT code
The tire in this image was manufactured on the first week of year 2020.

What happens to tires as it ages?

As tires age, they begin to develop cracks on the rubber. Over time, the cracks show on the surface and inside the tires. This crack most times causes the tread’s steel belt to separate from the tire. This condition worsens if maintenance is neglected or tires are exposed to too much heat.

Effects of storing your car on tires

If you leave your tires on your car for too long without driving, you may experience sidewall cracks or weathering. If you want to store your tires, ensure they are not fitted to your car and hang them by the wheels, so the weight does not affect them. 

If you outfit them to a car, ensure you park the car with a jack off the ground so the car’s weight doesn’t fall on the tires.

However, you store them, keep tires away from direct sunlight or electronic motors that produce ozone. Ozone can fasten weathering on the sidewall.

What are tires made of?

Tires are built with over 200 raw materials. However, the main ingredients include

  • Elastomers (like synthetic or natural rubber) 
  • Reinforcing fillers (like carbon black, silica)
  • Plasticizers (like oil and reins)
  • Chemicals (like sulfur)
  • Reinforcements (like steels, textiles)

Tire safety

Tires safety requires full inspection of tires to ascertain their condition. The best way to do this is to remove them from your car and get a 360° view of the sidewalls. To do this, ensure you have your work gloves, safety glasses, jack stands, and wedges. 

Everything you need to check to your tires

Checking tires involves rotating, balancing, or even changing them. You will need to lift your car off the ground; this is risky. To be on the safe side, ensure these tools are beside you.

  • Jack or lift
  • Pressure gauge
  • Jack stand
  • Tread depth gauge
  • Torque wrench

Importantly, ensure the job is done on a flat workspace in your garage or driveway. If you’re using your street parking, make sure you’re permitted to use that place, you don’t want your vehicle towed away.

Tips for tire care and maintenance

  • All four tires should be the same during replacement
  • Regularly check the tread wear indicator 
  • Check for tread depth and air pressure
  • You can use your hands (with gloves on) to check for irregularities
  • Use the right tire size
  • Use your spare tires when needed

FAQs

How many miles should tires last?

Most manufacturers build their tires to last between 30k to 85k miles depending on the type of tire and application it is built for.

Summer tires, for example, last shorter miles than others because of their soft rubber that enhances grip. But more importantly, maintenance, driving style, and road conditions can extend or shorten tire life.

Are 4-year-old tires still good?

A four-year-old tire is still good; most manufacturers will permit you to use it since most tire manufacturers offer up to a six-year warranty. However, if they are damaged or driving abnormally, you may need to change them. 

Should tires be replaced after 5 years?

Most tire manufacturers require you to change tires after six years, but if your tire offers five years warranty or the tires are worn out by then, they should be replaced.

How do you know when tires need to be replaced?

Many tires come with tread wear indicators. This indicator is usually invisible, but when they become visible, it means it’s time to replace your tires. 

Also, change tires if you feel they are losing traction, grip, or making much noise. Some tires lose performance as the tire age even when the tread indicator is invisible, and there is plenty of tire life remaining.