How Long Do Tires Last?
Time in Service v. Time in Years
It is impossible to predict when a tire should be replaced based on its calendar age alone. Although no widely accepted scientific research exists to show that chronological aging alone adversely affects a tire, and if so, how those effects occur, over what time period, etc., the longer a tire is in service, the more opportunities there are for it to be exposed to adverse environmental or service conditions. Therefore, the older a tire the greater the chance that it will need to be replaced due to service-related or storage conditions.
Tire Replacement – 6 Years in Service
While most tires will be replaced sooner, Goodyear recommends that any tire in service (meaning inflated and mounted on a rim of your vehicle, including your spare tire regardless of whether that tire is in contact with the roadway) 6 years or more be replaced even if such tire appears serviceable and even if it has not reached the legal treadwear limit. If you are unable to determine the date a tire was first placed in service, then you should rely on the DOT code stamped on the tire and ensure that any tire which was manufactured more than 6 years ago is removed from service (see below for how to read a tire’s DOT code). Tires that should otherwise be replaced based on wear, damage or any other factor should not be kept in service regardless of the date they were first placed in service or their date of manufacture. Also, consumers should never purchase or install used tires of any age on their vehicle as the service, maintenance and storage of used tires is largely unknown.
Automobile Manufacturers’ Recommendations
Various automobile manufacturers have published statements and instructions regarding tire service life, which include tire replacement recommendations based on chronological age. Goodyear advises that consumers refer to their owners’ manuals for guidance on the vehicle manufacturer’s replacement recommendations (but regardless of any such vehicle manufacturer’s advice, any tire’s replacement period should not exceed 6 years from the date the tire is placed in service or 6 years from the date included in the DOT code on the sidewall of the tire if you are unable to determine the date the tire was first placed in service).
According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average American drives 13,476 miles every year - that’s over 1,100 miles a month! Goodyear offers select replacement tires, which include treadwear wear-out warranties for up to six (6) years, or the mileage indicated (shown at the Tread Life Limited Warranty webpage), or whichever occurs first. Keep in mind that a tire’s warranty begins on the purchase date and not on the date the tire was manufactured.
Using the Penny Test to Check Your Tread Depth
An easy way to check how much tread you have left, is using the penny test! Take a penny and hold President Lincoln’s head upside down. Stick the penny in one of the primary tread grooves. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you have less than two thirty-seconds of an inch (2/32”) of tread. Also, your tires have wear indicators - these wear indicators are located at several places around the circumference of your tires and rise 2/32 inch from the bottom of the groove. When the tread has worn down to the 2/32-inch level, these indicators become flush with the tread surface and appear as a smooth bridge connecting the two adjacent tread ribs. And remember you can always visit a Goodyear Authorized Service Center to have your tire treadwear and inflation pressure checked.
If you don’t drive enough miles to wear the tread down, it might still be time to replace the tires. Remember, rubber used in many tires is a natural product, which can degrade over time simply through exposure to the elements.
Effects of Storing Your Car on Your Tires
If your tires - or even your entire car - is stored for part of the year, your tires could very easily fall victim to sidewall weathering/cracking (a condition some may call “dry rotting.”). The sidewall weathering that is visually evident on the tire occurs when the rubber compounds used to make the tire begin to break down. Those cracks can cause a weak spot in your tire. If you spot this evidence of sidewall weathering, it’s recommended you contact a Goodyear Authorized Service Center or Goodyear dealer to have your tires inspected to gauge the severity of the issue.
If you do store your car or your tires for part of the year, it’s best to keep the tires unloaded - if the tires are mounted on a car, try and park the car on jack stands so the full weight of the car isn’t on the tires. If you store the tires off the car, try to hang the tires by the wheels so weight isn’t compressing them. Whenever possible, store the tires inside, away from direct sunlight and away from electric motors that produce excessive ozone, as ozone can hasten sidewall weathering as well. Learn more facts about how and where to properly store your tires.
It’s been discussed that brand-new tires should last three to four years in most typical driving situations. However, there are those situations where you may not know the age of your tires, such as when a used vehicle is purchased. The previous owner may not have a record of when the tires were purchased or installed. Inspecting your tires for wear and tear is a common practice that you should begin working into your schedule, whether it’s inspecting a new vehicle, or using this routine on a monthly basis for your current vehicle.
Tire Date Code: Find Your Tire’s Age
On each tire is a Tire Identification Number, which is a code provided by the Department of Transportation and may be used in helping to determine your tire’s manufacture date. The code will be included on the tire’s sidewall and will begin with the letters “DOT” which will proceed either a 7-13 character code, depending on the manufacturing year.
When checking your tire’s DOT Codes, check all four tires as they may not have been replaced all at once. If you have a question about the age of your tires, contact a local store near you.
To learn more about how to read each number of your DOT Code, read our article on the Tire Date Code.
Learning how long tires may last is dependent upon many factors. Mileage placed on the tires is one of the factors - but not the only factor. How the tires are used and maintained, including especially inflation maintenance - or not used and maintained if they are stored - can contribute to how often you should change your tires.
Remember, the only thing on your car that’s in contact with the ground is your tires. It pays to keep them in top condition. Learn more signs for tire replacement and tips on when to replace your tires.