How long car tyres last depends on a cocktail of factors. These include the make and model of tyres, how you drive on them, the kind of driving, and the position they are on the car. Here we answer all the questions to do with tyre wear.
How long does a tyre last on average?
The average lifespan for a set of tyres is about 20,000 miles according to National Tyres and the RAC. But that is for front tyres. Rear tyres could go for up to 40,000 miles. They generally have an easier life because they don’t have an engine over them or do any steering, .
How long should car tyres last?
This depends on how they’re driven on, maintained and kept. Poorly maintained tyres that are driven on hard and live outside won’t last as long as more cosseted examples.
First let’s look at the make of tyre. Buy from a premium brand such as Continental or Michelin and you’re more likely to get a tyre that performs well and lasts a long time. That could be anywhere between five and 10 years, depending on the mileage you do.
Premium tyre makers spend many millions of pounds developing compounds or mixtures of chemicals that make up tyres. This research and development includes millions of miles of testing. This means they’re better able to balance the demands of performance, fuel economy and wear than budget manufacturers.
It’s worth noting that some budget tyres can last a long time too. It’s just they may not stop as well in the wet. Or they may cause your car to use more fuel.
How often should you get car tyres replaced?
This usually depends on two things. First, tyre wear. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. When your tread has worn down to that, the law says tyres must be replaced. It’s worth noting that some tyre makers insist when the tread wears below 3mm the tyre’s effectiveness at stopping in the wet is significantly reduced.
Equally, if the tyre has cracks in them or any kind of damage, it’ll need to be replaced. And that’s whether you’ve had them for one year or 10.
How long should tyres last before cracking?
Tyres have chemicals in them that are designed to slow down the ageing process. These are distributed around the tyre as you drive. Tyre manufacturers reckon these chemicals should enable a tyre to last about 10 years.
But if a tyre isn’t used regularly, the anti-ageing chemicals can’t be properly distributed and the tyre may start to crack.
Are 5 year-old tyres OK?
The impact of age on a tyre depends on the use they’ve had. A five year-old tyre that’s driven for 40,000 miles will probably be beyond its usable limit. Equally, a five-year old tyre that has barely been driven on and left to sit in the sun could also be approaching the end of its life, but this time through lack of use.
It really depends on the individual tyre. Read this blog to find out how to discover your tyre’s age.
Tips to make your tyres last longer
Drive aggressively with full throttle starts, cornering on two wheels and jamming the brakes on and you’ll wear tyres more quickly. More gentle inputs on the car’s controls wear tyres less.
Under inflation is one of the main causes of extra wear in tyres. A tyre that’s under inflated by just 6 PSI (most tyres are inflated to between 28 and 38 PSI) will have its wear reduced by a quarter. That’s because if a tyre doesn’t have enough air in it, more of the tyre will be running along the road. Friction will be increased and the tread, which is the patterned part, will get hotter and wear more.
Consider rotating your tyres – when you move those at the front to the back and vice versa. There’s more info on that in this post.
If you can, avoid driving through puddles. You don’t know what’s lurking beneath the water. There might be a huge pothole or a kerb or something else that’s going to cause damage to your tyre.
What causes tyres to wear out quickly?
Driving long journeys at high speed tends to wear tyres more than shorter, low speed trips.
And the heavier the car, the quicker it will go through its tyres. Also, front tyres tend to wear more quickly than rears because they’re having to steer as well as having the weight of the engine over them.
Misaligned wheels can also cause tyres to wear more quickly in specific areas, usually on the inside or outside of the tread.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.