How Long Do Tires Last? The Time and Distance Explained

Last Updated: July 31, 2023 |
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Did you know that an average of 700 people are fatally injured in tire-related auto accidents each year? Cars are complex pieces of machinery that require regular upkeep, especially when it comes to their tires. Without proper maintenance, automobiles can become incredibly dangerous. 

But how long do tires last? And how do you know when to replace tires? 

Knowing the answers to these key questions is an important part of keeping you safe on the road. This guide will walk you through everything you can expect from your tires. 

How Long Do Tires Last?

One of the first questions you may have when it comes to tire health is, “how long should tires last?” Well, the answer depends on a couple of different factors. 

In general, though, most tires should last roughly 60,000 miles. For the average driver, that’s about 3 or 4 years of good use. According to tire experts, tires should be replaced every 6 years or so, regardless of use. 

Additionally, every manufacturer is different. If you’re asking yourself, “how many miles can tires last?” check out your tire’s manufacturer warranties and guidelines for more specific information.

Your tire manufacturer isn’t the only factor that determines the longevity of your tires, however. Other factors to consider include:

The Vehicle Itself

Surprisingly enough, the actual vehicle the tires are mounted on can play a major role in how long they last. Heavier vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks can wear down a tire quicker than smaller cars. 

It’s important to purchase tires that are the appropriate size for your vehicle. Tires that are too small will wear down faster, causing more frequent replacement. They also present a noticeable safety risk when driving.

In some cases, certain vehicles will wear down tires quicker for no specific reason. For example, certain Honda CRV models have a history of premature tire damage. This means the need for roadside assistance may become more frequent. 

How You Drive

Your personal driving style can play a major part in how long your tires last. The more reckless your driving style, the more likely your tires will wear out prematurely. 

Heavy loads, hard acceleration, and driving aggressively over speed bumps and potholes will all take a toll on your tires. 

How Much You Drive

In addition to driving style, the amount you drive will have an impact on your tire’s lifespan. According to the Federal Highway Administration, most drivers will rack up about 13,000-14,000 miles a year, though this amount varies by person.

Driving much more than average will result in more wear and tear on your tires. If you’re driving long distances often, more frequent tire inspections may also be in order. 

Your Environment 

Where you live can make a major difference in how long your tires should last. Colder environments can lead to lower tire pressure. This can lead to underinflation and more frequent flats, which can create dangerous driving conditions.

High temperatures, on the other hand, can create increased friction between your tires and the roads you drive on.  Any underinflation, cracks, or damage to the tires can become increasingly unsafe in warmer climates. 

Additionally, sun exposure can shorten tire lifespans. This means, warmer, more Southern climates will likely require more frequent tire replacement. 

No matter what your climate, though, it’s best to stay off unfinished or damaged roads. Potholes and gravel can wear on your tires considerably and expose you to punctures or other surface damage.

Age of Your Tires

No matter the use you’ve gotten out of your tires, or the depth of the tread, most tires will need to be replaced after 6 years. This is because the rubber compounds that tires are made of will begin to deteriorate after this time. 

This deterioration leads to dry rot. Dry rot can lead to blowouts, flats, and tread separation. All these things make for unsafe driving conditions. 

Spare tires should also be replaced every 10 years. After 10 years, dry rot will begin to set in for those donuts, so be sure to get a replacement! 

Determining the Tire Age

If you’re not sure how old your tires are, you can check the tires sidewall to find out. The Department of Transportation requires that all tires list the month and year tires were produced. 

The last four digits of the tire identification number will tell you how old they are. The first two digits will tell you the number of weeks, while the last two tell you the year. 

So, for example, a tire that reads DOT U2LL LMLR 3310, means it was made in the 33rd week of 2010. Please note that this only applies to tires manufactured after the year 2000.

When buying a used car, this can be a great way to determine the age of the used tires

Performing Regular Maintenance

Having a regular maintenance and inspection routine can help your tires last longer. It can also increase your safety on the road and reduce your carbon footprint

Some keys to maintaining the safety of your vehicle, include:

Check Tire Pressure

You should be checking your tire pressure monthly. Check all four tires each month to ensure proper inflation. You should check more regularly if your environment is experiencing frequent temperature fluctuations.

To find the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle, check your owner’s manual or placard inside your car door. 

Tire Rotations

You should rotate your tires roughly every 5,000 to 7,000 miles, according to the Tire Industry Association. However, every vehicle is different. To find the specific vehicle recommendation, check your owner’s manual. 

Monitor Balance and Alignment

Your wheels’ balance and alignment can play a major role in tire life. When your wheels become unbalanced or fall out of alignment, it can cause irregular wear and tear and lead to more frequent tire replacement.

Have the alignment and balance checked by your mechanic roughly every 2 years (or 20,000 miles). 

Inspect the Tread

One of the most frequently overlooked areas of tire damage occurs in over-worn treadwear. Worn-out or damaged treads can lead to especially dangerous driving conditions. This is because treads affect stopping distance.

Well-maintained treads can help to prevent auto accidents. You can have them checked by a mechanic, or test them yourself by performing the “quarter test.”

Take a quarter and insert it into the tire tread, headfirst. If you can see all of George Washington’s head, it’s time to get your tires replaced.

Look For Damage

There are a few tell-tale signs of when to replace tires. These include:

Performing a visual inspection to check for damages, cracks, punctures, air bubbles, uneven wear, and other visible signs of aging is key. These inspections should be performed monthly, at a minimum. A simple glance over your tires could keep you safe on the road.

You should regularly inspect your vehicle. But, it may also pay to have your mechanic check over your tire health at each oil change visit.

Regular vehicle maintenance is key to maintaining your safety, and the safety of drivers around you. 

How Much Does Tire Replacement Cost? 

The cost of a tire replacement can vary based on a number of factors. These include:

Tire replacements can range anywhere from $200 to $2,000. Either way, you should expect to shell out a few hundred dollars, at least. But, for the sake of your health, the cost is definitely worth it.

Top Tips From the Tire Pros

A few things to keep in mind when it comes to tire maintenance and replacement include:

Replace Tires in Complete Sets

When it comes time to replace your tires, you should always replace all your tires at once. It’s best to purchase tires in sets of 4 or 6, depending on your vehicle’s needs. 

Driving with mismatched tires can be dangerous. It could also end up costing you more money down the road.

Never Forget the Spare

When you inspect your tires, don’t forget to give the spare an inspection, as well. Nothing is worse than getting a flat tire and realizing you’re stranded with an underinflated or damaged spare. 

You may also want to replace your spare when replacing the rest of your tires. In general, though, spares do not need replacement as frequently as other tires.

Use the Hand Test

It’s best to inspect your tires by removing them. However, this is unrealistic for most modern drivers. Instead, you can perform the hand test to check for wear and damage.

Run a gloved hand over the tire surface to check for bumps, cracks, tread wear, flat spots, nails or glass, bald spots, or any other noticeable irregularities.

Tire Care Creates Safer Drivers

Now that you know the answer to the question, “how long do tires last?” you’ll be better prepared to create safe driving habits. 

Check out our FAQ to learn more about being a responsible driver. The safety of our roads depends on the safety of each driver. Learn more today!