The condition of your car tires can have a huge impact on your comfort, safety and fuel economy. There are a number of factors that can affect on how long do tires last. Factors such as type of tire, your driving conditions and maintenance of your car and tires.
How Long Do Tires Last
Tires are manufactured by bonding rubber, fabric and steel cords and despite anti-aging ingredients in the rubber compounds they are perishable. Good news is that tire manufacture has improved! Tires made in the 1970’s may have only lasted 20,000 miles over a 2 year period of use and in the 1980’s this had increased to approximately 40,000 miles. Continual improvements in technology, materials and manufacturing processes now mean that with careful management new tires could last 60,000 to 80,000 miles. A different issue is the lifespan of a tire that is not used or used lightly, as they have an average lifespan of only 10 years. So, even if you don’t drive the 60,000 miles in 10 years you may still need to replace the tires anyway due to natural degradation of the tire. An unused car tire can be stored for up to 10 years if kept in a climate controlled warehouse but will likely only last 5 to 6 year if on your car and even less if you don’t store your car in a garage.Types of Tires
Performance summer tires are not designed to last as long as standard tires. They are made from a softer rubber and offer better grip on dry surfaces but do wear out more quickly (may only last 20,000 miles). All season or touring tires are made from a harder rubber that does not heat up as quickly or break down as easily as performance tires. The quality of the tire and its tread wear rating will also have an impact on how long the tire lasts. You do not necessarily have to buy the most expensive tires to get the best life. Mid-range priced tires can last as long as higher priced tires especially with good care and attention to maintenance issues. Do not expect a long life from the cheapest tires on the market!
Rotating tires from front to back or back to front can increase the length of usable life for each tire. Front tires are exposed to more wear on front wheel drive vehicles due to carrying most of the vehicles weight, particularly when breaking and cornering. Front tires wear out faster than rear tires, so usually when needing to replace the front tires a car service center will most likely switch your rear tires to the front and place the new tires on the rear.
If you break heavily a lot, speed from a stop or skid frequently then you will wear your tires out quicker than someone who drives sensibly, maintaining reasonable speeds and breaking slowly. Speeding off from stopped and causing the wheels to spin too fast and squeal or screech will wear those tires out more quickly than increasing speed gradually. An aggressive driver will wear tires out more quickly than a more conservative driver.
Driving on under inflated tires for an extended period of time will reduce the effective lifespan of those tires as this will cause wear to the internal structure of the tire. Likewise driving on over-inflated tires is also bad for the tires and may even increase the risk of a blowout. Check with the tire manufacturer and car manual for advice on correct tire pressure taking into account load as well. Regularly carrying heavy loads in your vehicle with under-inflated tires will cause unnecessary wear to the tires. Tires on average lose approximately 1 psi per month so regular monthly checks are recommended. Remember though that temperature affects psi readings. Tires lose 1 psi for every 10 degree drop in ambient temperature and gain 1 psi for every 10 degree rise. Warm tires that have been driven on will also have a higher psi reading than tires on a car that has been parked a while.
Driving regularly on gravel or dirt roads will wear your tires out more quickly than if you stay on smooth surfaced roads. If you regularly drive off-road then you will likely need to replace your tires more frequently unless of course you have specialist 4WD tires.
Tire Alignment and Balancing
When new tires are fitted they should be aligned so that tread wear is even across the surface of the tire. Alignment can be affected by driving over bumps, potholes or up a curb for example, or following a collision. If you notice the car pulling to the left or right then it is worth getting a wheel alignment done before uneven wear occurs to the tires forcing you to replace them before they have reached their mileage or age limit for use. Other signs of misaligned tires are steering wheel vibration or the steering wheel is off-center even though you are driving straight. You may not notice you have an alignment problem until your tires are checked through routine maintenance and found to be worn unevenly. Having your tires aligned and balanced every 5,000 to 6,000 miles can extend the life of your tires.
Tires on a car never stored in a garage will be exposed to more sunlight and weather conditions such as high and low temperature extremes, snow, rain and wind etc. than tires on a car kept undercover or in a garage. These weather or environmental conditions will cause more wear on a tire than if it is protected from these elements. Driving on gritted or salted roads in winter will also increase the wear on your tires.
Your initiative can affect on how long do tires last. With regular care and maintenance, and sensible driving on smooth surfaces you will get many more miles or years out of your car tires than if you neglect to protect your car from the weather or drive on gravel or dirt roads. Check your tires monthly for signs of wear such as tread depth, uneven wear and even cracks which may be caused by under-inflation or sun exposure. Check tires for uneven wear and regularly get the wheels aligned.