How Long do Tires Last

How Long do Tires Last (and when to replace them)

Automobiles are a wonder of modern technology. Thousands of individual parts all working together in a symphony of mechanical functionality. Of course, having thousands of moving parts means you also have thousands of things that can go wrong. Motorists must ensure their vehicle remains in top condition by either servicing or replacing parts that are aging. One of the most important components on your vehicle are the tires and many drivers wonder how long do tires last (and how to know when it’s time to replace them).

In today’s article we’ll explore this question in detail.

So, How Long do Tires Last (on average)

The short answer is “it depends,” but generally tires will last around 5 years. A number of factors can play a role in shortening the lifespan of your tires, but a regular set of quality all-season tires that you might find on most vehicles in the U.S. will last between 60,000 and 80,000 miles with proper maintenance. The average American puts about 13,500 miles on their car in a given year, so for many people 5 years of driving will put about 67,500 miles on their tires, putting them in the range where they will probably need to replace their tires.

Of course drivers of different ages and stages of life tend to drive different distances in an average year. By using data from the chart below from the US Department of Transportation you can make an educated guess about how long your tires may last.

Age GroupMale DriverFemale DriverAll Drivers
16 – 19 years old8,2066,8737,624
20 – 34 years old17,97612,00415,098
35 – 54 years old18,85811,46415,291
55 – 64 years old15,8597,78011,972
65 + years old10,3044,7857,646
Data Courtesy US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (source)

Using the data above and assuming that sometime after 60,000 miles of driving your car will need new tires is a good start. But putting a definitive answer on how long tires last is impossible, because there’s no universal figure that’s true for everyone.

Factors such as manufacturer, usage, and driving habits all contribute to tire wear and aging.

A Consensus (sort of)

Luckily, there is a consensus on the normal lifespan of tires based on averages.

How Long do Tires Last on Average

Most regulators, manufacturers, and tire experts will say you should be fully replacing tires after 10 years, even if they still have acceptable tread depth. Inspections should be given on tires every three years, although I recommend a yearly check once the tires are over 3 years old. I also believe the 10-year recommendation is far too long if you look at the driving habits of average Americans.

It is also worth noting that rubber degradation starts happening sooner, even if you regularly check your tires. This usually starts after 5 years, even on tires that have never been in use.

This is why I suggest that you should budget for tire replacement every 5 years, and if your tires last a little longer (or need replacement sooner), be prepared to make a decision with safety top-of-mind at that time.

The Impact of Tires on Vehicle Safety

Understanding how long tires last and how often you should replace your tires is one of the biggest safety considerations a driver can make.

Because tires provide the only connection your vehicle has with the ground, keeping them in good condition is necessary. Not only do proper tires provide better comfort and improved fuel economy, but they will also keep your vehicle more stable, help with handling, and basically keep you on the road.

Impact of Tires on Vehicle Safety

Avoiding tire maintenance and care to save some money could mean you are putting your life, and the lives of other road users, at risk. One of the most important parts of tire care is replacing worn and old tires at the right time.

So, what factors will cause your tires to wear out faster?

Factors That Can Reduce Tire Lifespan

If you find that your tires are wearing out too quickly, it’s likely that one (or more) of these issues is to blame:

  • Poor Wheel Alignment – Having properly aligned wheels is an important part of vehicle safety. Wheels that are not tracking will cause poor handling and also for tires to wear unevenly and more rapidly. Misaligned wheels cause unbalanced tire wear, meaning your tires will warp and no longer be round.
  • Not Rotating Tires Regularly – According to the US Tire Manufacturers Association, you should rotate your tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Rotation means moving your tires around. For example, a rear-wheel drive car will have greater tire wear on the rear, so swapping those tires to the front is necessary. Likewise, the inverse is true for front-wheel drive vehicles.
  • Delay in Brake Service – No other vehicle safety feature is as important as your brakes. Like other parts of motor vehicles, brakes can fall victim to wear and tear. The more your brakes age, the more strain they put on tires. If your vehicle has worn brake calipers or pads, they will cause unbalanced tire erosion from uneven braking.
  • Poor Driving Habits – How you drive plays a significant role in the lifespan of your tires. If you like to rag your car around at high speeds, cornering aggressively, accelerating too quickly, or burning out, your tires will not last as long as they might under normal driving habits.
  • Weak Suspension – Good shock absorbers will provide a comfortable ride, help vehicle handling, and maintain stability. Old or broken suspension will do none of those things. In fact, if a component in your suspension system is old, misaligned, or worn, it can cause the tire to degrade unevenly.
  • Power Steering Issues – In most cases, excessive oversteer and understeer can cause tires to wear down unevenly. Furthermore, “dry steering” can have the same effect. This is when you steer a vehicle with power steering while it is stationary.

Beyond these issues, the tires you purchase and how they are manufactured can play a major role in how long they last (or how quickly they wear out). More on that in a minute.

How To Make Your Tires Last Longer

First, let’s talk about some basic maintenance that can help your tires last.

Tips to Make Your Tires Last Longer

There are a few things you can do to maintain your tires and make them last longer. These are:

  • Check Air Pressure Every Month – So many people sleep on tire pressure, despite it being relatively easy to check. Your vehicle owner manual will tell you the recommended pressure limit for your model and I recommend checking once per month (though if you use nitrogen instead of compressed air in your tires you may be able to wait longer).
  • Rotate Your Tires Every 5,000 Miles – As mentioned, tire rotation is important for maintaining even tire wear. Guidelines suggest rotating tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles, but I think towards the lower end of that recommendation is best.
  • Check Tire Alignment 1-2 Times Annually – Because improper alignment can cause rapid tire wear, you should take your vehicle into the shop at least once a year for a checkup. The mechanic will spin your wheels on a balance machine to see if there are any problems.
  • Check Tire Tread Depth – While you can still have tread on a tire that needs replacing, a bald tire or one with low thread is a sure sign it is time to swap your rubbers. While legal tread depth is 2/32” or higher, I recommend not letting your tire treads drop below 4/32”. Any lower and you’re sacrificing safety.

How Many Miles do Most Tires Last?

I recently wrote an article on this topic which you may enjoy, but to summarize: the average motorist in the U.S. covers between 13,000 and 15,000 miles each year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Most standard (good) tires have a shelf life of between 60,000 and 80,000 miles. In my experience this is generous, and I feel that most tires last about 50,000 miles in the US.

If you use the chart above to compare the average miles driven per motorist by the average tire life, you can expect your tires to last between 4 to 8 years.

How to Know When It Is Time to Replace Your Tires

It is important to remember that several factors may change the lifespan of your tires.

You may drive more or less than the average. Always check you tire manufacturer recommendations and compare the usage limit of the tires (in miles) by your average yearly distance driven.

How to Know When it’s Time to Replace Your Tires

If you have had the same set of tires for 5 years, you should be considering replacing them… no matter how much tread remains.

During those 5 years, you have probably covered close to the recommended miles on your tires and the rubber compound will be deteriorating. You may get more time on your 5 year old tires depending on your driving habits, but eventually dry rot will set in, and your tires will become dangerous, even if they look as good as new.

While it is easy to assume vehicle manufacturers put replacement recommendation mileage on tires to make money on motorists needing replacements, it is a safety requirement. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) demands that all tires provide information showing the month and year of manufacture. You can find this data on the tire sidewall.

Tire Manufacture Date on the Sidewall of a Tire
On this tire’s sidewall you can see it was manufactured in July of 2020

For all tires manufactured after 2000, the build date is the last four digits of the Tire Identification Number. By checking this number, you can see how old the tires are and if they may need replacement based on their age.

Sure, this may not be as important for new vehicles, but it is something to know about, because I feel it’s worth checking when purchasing a car (especially a used car that may have been sitting in the lot for a few years). The tires may look fine, but they may be unsafe to drive on.

Do Some Tires Last Longer Than Others?

How long your tires last depends on many factors, such as driving habits, vehicle condition, and tire manufacturer.

You can have two sets of the same tire on two different vehicles, and the lifespan of the rubber will be different. Some manufacturers also promise higher mileage on their tires than others, such as a guarantee (or warranty) of 60,000 miles.

Examples of Some Long-Wearing All Season Tires

In 2005, Consumer Reports released a guide on the best long-lasting tires based on a survey the nonprofit customer advocate conducted. After testing over 400 tire manufacturers that provide rubber for cars and trucks, the study found the following models stand out for their longevity:

Michelin Defender T&H

Michelin Defender T+H
  • All-season tire
  • 6 years Standard Limited Warranty
  • 80,000 miles usage warranty
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Michelin Defender LTX M/S

  • Deep tread for wet grip and traction
  • 70,000 miles usage
  • 50,000 miles tread warranty
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Pirelli P4 Four Seasons Plus

Pirelli P4 Four Season Plus Tire
  • All-season tire
  • 90,000 miles usage warranty
  • Notable for their consistent traction
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If you’re in the market for new tires and you want a model that will last, you may want to start by looking at these models.

Some All Season Tires That Underperform in Treadwear

According to the Consumer Reports test referenced above, the following tires wear out 15,000 or more miles earlier than they claim to:

  • Continental TrueConact and PureContact (H-, V-speed rating),
  • Sumitomo HTR Enhance L/X (T-,H-,V-speed rating),
  • Kumho SOlus TA71 and TA11,
  • Firestone Precision Touring, and
  • Bridgestone Serenity Plus.

Beyond these, the worst performer was the Nokian enTYRE 2.0. That tire claims an 80,000 mile warranty but Consumer Reports projects it would wear out in just 35,000 miles. You should obviously expect more from your tires, and can do much better than that.

Tips For Choosing Tires That Will Last a Long Time

Tires are one of the costs associated with owning a vehicle that no-one likes paying for. They can be expensive to purchase and expensive to fit, so you want to only replace them when you really have to.

One way to avoid replacing your tires frequently is to buy rubbers that last longer. Doing so may mean a slightly larger financial outlay, but you will save money in the long run.

How to Choose Tires That Last a Long Time

That’s why I always recommend buying high-quality tires with a long tread life (preferably with a warranty). What you are trying to do is get as much bang for your buck as you can. So, you want to have as many miles on the road with your tires as possible. However, like in any other industry, some tire brands oversell the capabilities of their tires.

Always do your research and read reviews on the performance of the tire you are interested in. You will find that you can quickly separate the tires that match their manufacturer claims from the ones that wear down quicker than expected.

I also advise motorists to choose tires with the best treadwear grade they can find. All tires have a treadwear rating from the U.S. government, so you can easily look up which tires are available for your vehicle model and what grades those tires offer.

Treadwear Isn’t Everything (what else to consider)

While shallow or bald tread is a guarantee that your tire requires replacements, it can sometimes be deceptive. It is very possible that your tires can have deep tread but still need changing.

Learn How Long Tires Last

Here are some other checks you can do that will highlight any problems with your tires:

  • Check the air pressure – Remember air pressure can play a role in tire degradation. Keep your tires at the recommended pressure.
  • Look for Irregularities – Inspect your tires regularly to see if there are any abnormalities, such as balding, or signs that rubber is degrading. Most people inspect only the tread, but if you see damage to the sidewall, that can be cause for concern.
  • Check for uneven wear – If your tire is wearing down on one side by not on the other, or in the center by not on the edged, then this is a telltale sign of inflation issues, balancing or alignment problems, that you waited too long to rotate your tires, or even rubber damage.

Final Thoughts About Getting The Most Out of Your Tires

Don’t ignore your tires. They are the one connection your vehicle has with the road and if left to degrade they could cost you your life.

By conducting some simple checks and paying annual visits to the shop, you can avoid having problems with your tires, and make your tires last longer (which will save you money over time).

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