How Many Miles Should Tires Last?
Car owners know that their 4-tired pets have plenty of consumables that need to be replaced regularly, but not all at the same time, lucky for us.
On the one hand, you have the engine oil that needs to be replaced every 10,000 miles (depending on the manufacturer) or every year. On the other, you have parts where longevity isn’t fixed.
Whenever you replace a part, you know the life expectancy, and you are prepared for the next one. Take spark plugs, for example. The iridium ones usually last around 50-60,000 miles, so you know things are good for several years. Things are the same with the tires, but the life expectancy is a bit complicated.
The rate at which tires wear depends on multiple factors, so before I answer that question, there are a few things that we should define.
How Many Miles Should Tires Last?
This is one of those questions that has tons of answers. A tire’s longevity depends on multiple factors, meaning that two people driving the same tires won’t get the same mileage before they need to replace them. Throughout this guide, I’ll talk about why tires wear down, why the question is difficult to answer, and a few ways you can prolong your new tires’ life.
Why Don’t Tires Last Forever?
As much as we want to see this, unfortunately, tires aren’t something you’ll use for decades. To ensure that there is good performance, manufacturers have relied on rubber to make the tires. Over the years, the formula has changed, but the principle remained the same.
Around the internal construction, manufacturers utilize rubber due to its properties, so the tires can deliver the advertised performance, for the most part at least. The tire’s surface isn’t as smooth as ice, and those minor unevenness give it the grip and traction you need.
Considering that the road and the tire aren’t smooth, the performance is born as a result of friction. Naturally, this is backed by the tread pattern that passenger tires have, but the rubber provides the basic performance. Tires do what they are designed for – roll around. The process of rolling creates friction, and that eats away the tire one molecule at a time. It’s benign if you drive for a few miles, but after several thousand, you will notice that the depth is reduced.
During their lifespan, tires are “tortured,” and since they are made of rubber, the tread depth reduces. Unlike race cars that drive in ideal situations, in most cases, with slicks, passenger cars need more versatile tires. The tread pattern is the part that can offer snow performance or better aquaplaning resistance, while the sipes can help the tire in damp conditions.
Once these begin to wear down, the tire’s performance degrades, at which point it’s time to start thinking about replacement.
Why Do Tires Wear at Different Rates?
One of the reasons why two different tires would wear at different rates is their application. Touring tires, for example, are designed for longevity, among other things, so these are the ones that will provide the longest lifespan. Performance tires, on the other hand, are designed for maximum grip and traction, sacrificing longevity. So, what’s different?
There are tons of differences, and the compound is the most crucial one. In the simplest terms possible, performance tires usually have softer compounds, which enable them to perform better. A softer compound will change its shape on a microscopic level much better, improving the grip. As a result, the softer compound will wear down more quickly.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to paint touring tires as bad performers. They still perform excellently for what most people are after, despite being at a disadvantage when compared to UHP tires. The harder compound means that you may lose a bit on performance, but you are getting a lot in terms of longevity.
Next up are your driving habits, which can dramatically change how long a tire lasts in terms of mileage. As a tire roll, it has the least resistance when it’s going in a straight line. This means that every time you turn into a corner, you wear the front tires more, which is why tire rotation is so crucial.
Any tire that gets driven more aggressively will wear down more quickly – regardless of the tire type. Even if you’re driving something like the Pilot Sport 4s around town without pushing it, the longevity will be better than the same tire model that gets driven on the track. More extreme situations will decrease the lifespan of any tire, even a touring one.
How Does Age Fit into The Mix?
This may seem a bit off-topic, but tire age also plays a huge role. A while ago, I talked about when you should get new tires, and in terms of age, I recommended avoiding driving the same set of tires for more than 5 or 6 years. The reason is that as the tire ages, the compound hardens, leading to loss of performance, and over time it will become dangerous to drive.
Things in this regard are similar to the engine oil. You replace it either at 10,000 miles or each year. With tires, you either replace them when the tread depth falls below the minimum required by law or after 5 or 6 years.
How Long Should Tires Last?
It’s a tricky question and a trickier answer, and the simplest one I can give you is “no one knows.” This question is commonly asked about touring tires, so let’s take those into consideration.
Pirelli’s P4 Four Seasons Plus is a standard touring tire with a 90,000-mile treadwear warranty, so you’d think the tire will last for 90,000 miles? Not really, but it should give you an estimate. If everything is done correctly and you take care of your tires, they should last roughly as much as the treadwear warranty.
With that said, there are some exceptions. It’s been known for some models to have poor longevity, despite some claims from the manufacturers, so that can be a reason for your tire to wear prematurely. On the other hand, this is why you have a treadwear warranty, so you’re covered if it’s an error on the manufacturer’s part.
Longevity with performance tires is even more challenging to determine. Even though you wouldn’t get them to last long, you’d still want to know how many miles you can get out of them. Performance tires usually don’t come with a treadwear warranty, so you’ll have to rely on other people’s experiences to get a rough estimate on the numbers.
Why Are My Tires Wearing Down Faster Than What Other People Claim?
You went online and saw that people claim to have gotten over 50,000 miles from their tires, but you didn’t even manage to get to 30,000. Naturally, you may think that people on the internet lie. While that is true, in this regard, it may not be the case. For a tire to last as long as possible, there are certain things you need to consider, and tire care is one of the most important one.
To cover as much ground as possible, I’ll divide this into several sections, which should give you an idea of what can cause a tire to wear prematurely. I did something similar with my opinion on why tires on new cars wear down so quickly.
Don’t Be Aggressive
I mentioned previously that aggressive driving wears down a tire more quickly, so that can be a common reason. Doing burnouts, drifting, or any kind of hard-driving will wear down any tire faster, even if it’s a touring one.
Tires are designed to wear down normally if you drive them normally. Regardless of the type of tire, if you take it on a track and drive it at the limit, you could be shaving off a couple of hundred miles of treadwear in a lap. I haven’t actually tested this, but it’s not far from what I think would happen.
Even if you’re driving on public roads, there are some aggressive scenarios that can eat away the tire faster. While pushing your car on a twisty road is fun, constantly doing so will reduce its longevity.
Rotate the Tires Regularly
Another common reason why the tires may exhibit premature wear, especially the front ones, is rotation or the lack thereof. The front tires need to steer, and whenever they aren’t straight, they undergo more scraping than usual, meaning that there’s more friction which reduces the tread depth.
Most tire shops recommend rotating the tires every 5-6,000 miles to ensure that the front ones don’t wear out too much. There are multiple ways that they can be rotated, so it’s best to consult with the professionals.
An essential thing to note here is that car with a staggered setup cannot have the tires rotated. With that kind of setup, the read wheels are usually wider, so rotating them will cause additional problems. In these cases, you may need to replace the front tires sooner than the rear ones, or you can balance things out with a burnout.
Driving Under Pressure
The internal pressure of a tire plays a very important role in how your car drives and delivers performance. While the internal construction may give the tire its shape when it’s not mounted, the pressure is what keeps that shape once a load is applied.
While manufacturers make the tires to perform in a variety of pressures, things are unique based on the car you’re driving. For the most part, there are two aspects that you need to be aware of: speed and weight.
For example, if you’re driving over a certain speed, let’s say 100mph, the pressure will be different than the one if you’re driving under 100 mph. As far as weight goes, a car’s front wheels will be a bit more inflated than the rear ones if there are no passengers or load in the rear. If you put 5 people in the car with some cargo in the trunk, you will most likely need to pump the rear ones up.
All of this information is located in your user manual or a sticker on the inside of the door, so make sure you’re following that to ensure proper care.
So, why is this important? Well, an underinflated tire will bend in the middle, meaning that the outer shoulders will carry more weight than the central rib. Not only will this reduce the performance, but it will also wear out the outer parts of the tire more quickly. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if a tire is overinflated, the load will be more towards the central rib, so that part will wear out more quickly.
Modern cars have sensors that will inform you that the pressure of your tires is lower, but there’s a slight problem. Most of them work in situations where the pressure is at least 20% over or under the optimal number, so things may have started to deteriorate by the time you get the memo.
To bypass this, I recommend checking the tire pressure occasionally at a gas station or with a gauge meter you can in your car.
Your Wheels Aren’t Straight
No, I’m not referring to any sexual orientation; straight wheels are just what it sounds like. To ensure that a car performs as intended, the wheels need to be parallel. This provides proper performance, and it also eliminates potential premature wear.
If the tires aren’t parallel, it means that the alignment is off. Having one tire even a few degrees off means that it will perform decently, but it will also grad across the road. Once a tire starts to drag, the wear will be increased, so you can expect to have some issues with premature wear.
A common symptom of misalignment is that your car drags to one side when you let go of the steering wheel. Also, if the alignment is off, you are most likely to see increased wear on one tire, which would be more severe when compared with the others.
Fixing this is a simple process; all you need to do is take your car to a tire shop. They have all the necessary gear to check and correct, and the process isn’t too expensive.
What Does All of This Mean?
The answer to the question of how long tires should last is a very complicated one. Plenty of factors come into play, and it’s not one number that can give you the answer you need. Some tires will last longer, while others will wear out more quickly.
I’d say that your best bet is to check other people’s experiences with the specific tire you plan to purchase. You can “include” some of the tips I mentioned that should help ensure that the tires last as long as they should.