The question, "How long does a tire last?" tends to be followed by several others like, “What causes a tire to wear? When should tires be replaced? What can be done to make tires last longer?” Fortunately, we can help provide clarity around these questions.
How Long a Tire Lasts
There is no exact answer to how long a particular tire will last, but there are things a driver can do to get the most out of their tire investment and avoid driving on unsafe tires. On average, people drive between 12,000 to 15,000 miles a year, which means the average good quality all-season tire will last somewhere between three and five years, depending on maintenance, driving style and conditions, etc.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) states a driver is three times more likely to be involved in a crash caused by poor tire condition. Safer is smarter when it comes to the health of tires, so if there is ever a question on tread wear or age, have the tires checked.
Factors that Influence How Long a Tire Lasts
Multiple factors play a role in how long a tire may remain in service. Miles driven, road conditions, driving style, maintenance and age all affect how long a tire lasts.
Worn vs. Aged
Tires naturally wear the more they are driven and worn out tires provide reduced traction compared to those with adequate tread, especially in adverse weather conditions. Most drivers understand worn out tires (remaining tread depth at or below 2/32”) should be removed from service.
Many drivers are not aware that minimally used tires, like the ones on recreational vehicles, collectible cars, or even spare tires, tend to experience aging instead of wearing, due to a lack of driving. An aged tire has a substantial amount of tread; however, the structural integrity of the tire is weaker because the tire needs to be driven for the chemicals in the rubber to remain effective.
Curbs, Potholes, and Other Hazards
Hitting curbs or driving on roads in poor condition (potholes, broken pavement, poorly graded railroad crossings, unpaved roads, etc.) can cause misalignment, and suspension damage that affects tire wear. If your daily drive includes these challenges, be sure to schedule annual suspension, alignment and tire checks.
Driving in poor weather conditions like ice, snow, and rain can cause tires to wear quicker because they must work harder to maintain traction. Purchasing tires that are specially engineered to perform in specific weather conditions can provide drivers with an extra measure of traction and control (meaning greater safety) while delivering good treadwear.
Bridgestone offers different types of tires designed to keep you and your car safe during any weather or road condition. For example, Bridgestone's Blizzak tire series is built to perform in harsh winter weather conditions providing durable traction on snowy and icy roads, and the Dueler tire series is one of several that offer a secure grip on wet road conditions for areas that experience heavy rain.
Poor Driving Habits
Poor driving habits like hard cornering, quick acceleration, and sudden braking can increase the stress on tires tremendously, causing them to wear rapidly. Drivers can extend the life of their tires significantly by avoiding aggressive driving.
It is important to regularly have tires checked for damage, to maintain air pressure levels, and to keep tires aligned and rotated. Without proper maintenance, tire life can be reduced by as much as half - even more, in some cases.
Knowing When to Replace Tires
If the below signs are evident with your tires, it may be time to have them replaced.
Low Tread Depth
Tread loss is a significant sign a tire needs to be replaced. Low tread is a sign driver can physically see happening on their tire. Depending on the part of the tire that is wearing, there may be other problems with the vehicle.
- Pronounced inner or outer shoulder wear: tires are misaligned
- Edge of the shoulder wear: tires are under-inflated, need to be rotated or both.
- Center wear: tires may be overinflated or have been subjected to extremely hard acceleration.
- Cupped wear: the vehicle is experiencing suspension problems
All tires have tread wear indicators built-in, but if the tread looks low take time to do the penny test on the tires.
If you’re experiencing a vibration (particularly if it just started), or high (and increasing) levels of tire noise it may be a sign your tires are out of balance, not wearing properly or have a structural issue. In some cases, this may affect safety, so have your tires checked by a qualified professional asap.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number on the tire’s sidewall is another way to help keep track of when they need to be replaced. It’s easy to identify - look for the letters “DOT” followed by eleven or twelve letters and numbers. On tires made after the year 2000 the final four digits signify the week and year of manufacture. So, a tire with “3618” would have been made in the 36th week or 2018. A tire that has a 3-digit week-and-year code means the tire was made before the year 2000 and should be replaced due to age.
Bridgestone recommends that its Bridgestone or Firestone brand tires be removed from service after ten years regardless of their remaining tread depth. They also recommend periodic inspections by a qualified technician for damage such as punctures, impact damage, signs of improper inflation or overloading, or other conditions resulting from the use or misuse of the tire.
How Long a Tire Lasts: Extending Tread Life
Tires are both one of the largest maintenance expenses a vehicle owner is likely to face, and one of the most critical in terms of driving safety and performance. For both reasons it’s important to care for them properly. Bottom line: good maintenance and driving habits help keep drivers safe, and it saves them money by extending tire life.
Easy Does It
Tire life can be reduced by as much as half when they’re subjected to a lot of hard braking and aggressive acceleration from a standstill. Avoiding tailgating to reduce the need for frequent hard braking will increase tire life. Easing into the throttle when pulling away from a stop reduces strain on the tires and improves wear. Slowing before sharp corners also reduces stress on tires, as does avoiding potholes and broken pavement when possible. If you’re interested in spending less on tires, following these steps can help.
Another way to extend tire life is to keep up with the proper maintenance of a vehicle and its tires. A couple of things you can do yourself are to check the air pressure and tread depth. You should have a qualified technician periodically check their balance and alignment and be sure to have tires rotated at regular intervals. maintenance is essential for your tires to perform their best and last their longest.