How Long Do Tires Last? 

The length of each tire’s life will be different, depending on the design and numerous wear-and-tear factors, but manufacturers and service companies suggest general mileage limits to help prevent driving on unsafe rubber. Check your manufacturer warranties and guidelines for specifics.

Discount Tire, a large nationwide auto service company, suggests replacing tires, regardless of the tread depth, after six years of use. That time could come sooner, depending on the health of the tires. Every tire also has a suggested mileage limit.

How Old Are Your Tires?

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that all tires must list the month and year the tires were produced on the sidewall. On tires made in 2000 or newer, this can be found in the last four digits of the Tire Identification Number. Of those four digits, the first two convey the month, and the last two convey the year. For example, a tire that reads DOT U2LL LMLR 3209 means it was made in the 32nd week of 2009. Before 2000, three digits were used, with the first two digits translating to the month and the last digit marking the year.

Related post: Best Car Tires

Tire Safety

The best way to inspect tires is to remove them for a full view of the front and rear sidewalls, as well as the tread. Use these items to ensure you’re working safely.

Everything You’ll Need To Check Your Tires

Checking, rotating, and changing tires are straightforward tasks, but they involve lifting 3,000-6,000-pound chunks of metal and plastic above the ground. That makes it dangerous. The right tools provide safety and simplify the job, so here’s what you’ll need to check your tires.

Tool List 

Organizing your tools and gear so everything is easily reachable while you are inspecting your tires, will save precious minutes waiting for your handy-dandy child or four-legged helper to bring you the sandpaper or blowtorch. (You won’t need a blowtorch for this job. Please don’t have your kid hand you a blowtorch—Ed.)

While you are asking the Gods “How Long Will My Tires Last?” – you’ll also need a flat workspace, such as a garage floor, driveway, or street parking. Check your local laws to make sure you’re not violating any codes when using the street because we aren’t getting your ride out of the clink.

Tire Health Checklist

A lot can go wrong with a tire, so it’s important to constantly check that it’s up to snuff. Look for and be aware of these factors when examining the health of your tires: 

  • Pressure: Measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), this refers to the air pressure inside the tires.
  • Tread depth: This refers to how deep the patterned exterior ridges of the tire are.
  • Punctures: Check for anything that has penetrated the tire and innertube that could cause air to leak out.
  • Cracks/dry-rotting: Look for cracks or splits in the tire. If found, the tire is not safe for driving and should be replaced immediately. 
  • Over/under inflation: Inflating a tire with too much or too little air will cause uneven tread wear and will detract from its full performance capabilities.
  • Balance: The mass distribution of tires needs to be even and balanced in order to function properly.

Pro Tips for Tire Care and Maintenance

Throughout our years of buying, changing, and fixing tires, we’ve seen it all. Here are some top tips we’ve learned from our experiences:

  • Always replace tires in complete sets of four or six. Driving with unmatched tires could create or result in more problems down the road.
  • Don’t forget the spare tire! The last thing you want is to be stranded with an underinflated spare, or worse.
  • Tires have wear bars built into them. If your tread is even with the bar, it’s time to change tires.
  • Check your tire with an upside-down quarter (the penny test is dated). If the tread covers Washington’s head, that generally means the tire still has at least 4/32 of an inch of tread or enough for safe driving. If you can see all of Washington’s dome, head to the tire center ASAP.
  • Don’t be afraid to use the hand test. Although the best way to inspect is removing the tires, not everybody has the time, space, or know-how. With a glove on, run your hand over the surfaces of the tires to check for uneven tread wear, bubbles, cupping, flat spots, nails, glass, bald spots, or other irregularities.

Get Help With Tire Replacement From a Mechanic On JustAnswer

The Drive recognizes that while our How-To guides are detailed and easily followed, a rusty bolt, an engine component not in the correct position, or oil leaking everywhere can derail a project. That’s why we’ve partnered with JustAnswer, which connects you to certified mechanics around the globe, to get you through even the toughest jobs. 

So if you have a question or are stuck, click here and talk to a mechanic near you

FAQ

How Often Do You Need to Rotate Your Tires?

As a general rule, we recommend every 5,000-7,000 miles, but it depends on numerous factors, including your car’s alignment. You can read more on The Drive’s guide for How To Rotate Car Tires.

How Often Does Your Car Need an Alignment?

Should you notice any inconsistencies with steering or your car’s straight-line driving, get your alignment checked as soon as possible. If not, a safe and reliable rule is to have it checked once a year. However, this all depends on how and how much a person drives. 

How Often Should You Put Air in Your Tires?

It’s not a bad idea to do an eyeball test any time you get in the car. For further inspection, use a tire pressure gauge once a week to check your tires. It only takes a few minutes and could save you time, money, and health in the future.

How Much Does It Cost To Buy New Tires?

This depends on what type of tire, the size of the tire, and the brand. Four 15-inch Sumitomo HTR P02 all-season tires for a 1996 Saturn SC2 cost roughly $275, but four 20-inch Bridgestone Potenza S007 summer tires will set you back roughly $1,800. Expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars at a minimum.