Jeep tires wear out faster than other SUVs, but there are steps you can take to increase their lifespan.
Jeep road tires, also known as highway tires, last between 40,000 and 60,000 miles or about six years. Off-road tires, which have an aggressive tread pattern and softer rubber, only last about 50,000 miles or five years.
In this article, we’ll cover the average life expectancy of on-road and off-road Jeep tires. We’ll explore why Jeep tires wear out faster, along with what you can do to increase the lifespan of your tires and prevent uneven wear.
We sourced the information used in this article from Jeep and well-known tire manufacturers. We also drew off the experiences of the Jeep community and reputable off-road tire maintenance guides.
Do Jeeps Wear Out Tires Faster?
Jeeps, specifically Jeep Wranglers, have been known to wear out tires faster than other SUVs. This is primarily because of their drivetrain design and how people use them. The main cause of fast tire wear on Jeeps is frequent or improper use of 4-wheel-drive.
Your typical Jeep Wrangler is not an ‘all-wheel-drive’ vehicle like a Subaru Outback. Instead, it’s a traditional part-time 4-wheel-drive vehicle that uses solid axles and a manual transfer case. This is not a system that’s designed for constant use.
Many people drive their Jeeps in 4-high when they’re not supposed to. The 4-wheel-drive system on Jeeps is only designed to be used on dirt or snow and not on dry pavement. Anyone who ever tried to make a sharp turn in 4-high knows why—the system binds up and causes the car to hop.
Front differentials are not designed to be used on dry pavement. When the wheels don’t turn, like on the back of a car, a differential allows them to spin at different speeds for turning. It doesn’t work as well on the front wheels, and this causes tremendous drivetrain strain, which eats up tires.
How Jeep Tire Design Affects its Lifespan
Jeep tires come in many shapes and sizes, though they usually fall into one of two categories: on-road and off-road tires. The tires you use can have a significant effect on their lifespan. Here are the differences between highway tires and off-road tires and why they wear out at different intervals.
Jeep Highway Tire Design
Jeeps come from the factory with what we call ‘highway tires.’ Standard factory tires, depending on where the vehicle is sold, can be all-terrain or all-season, and sometimes plain old summer tires.
Highway tires aren’t off-road tires. They can be used on or off-road, but they’re designed for efficiency and longevity. Generally speaking, these tires have a reasonable tread depth and an unremarkable tread pattern.
Generally speaking, factory Jeep tires last longer than aggressive off-road tires. This is because they have more tread contact with the road and less aggressive tread, which distributes wear evenly and doesn’t wear particularly fast on the pavement.
Jeep Off-Road Tire Design
Off-road tires are much more aggressive than highway tires. These tires have deeper tread and larger gaps between the tread, which improve their ability to grip on surfaces with large debris. Off-road tires are a common addition to Jeeps, and they’re a necessity for serious off-roading.
Off-road tires are larger than highway tires, and they tend to have much more sidewall area and height. Off-road tires wear out on the highway much faster than highway tires, as the large gaps between their tread put additional wear on the contact surfaces.
How Long Do Jeep Highway Tires Last?
Highway tires last quite a long time on Jeeps, but not quite as long as they do on cars. This is due to their increased size and the weight of the car, along with the solid axles.
Solid axle suspension doesn’t allow independent wheel travel. As a result, Jeep tires experience rigid forces on the road and wear out a bit faster, regardless of the tire type.
Regular highway tires should last between 40,000 and 60,000 miles on a Jeep, provided you avoid drifting, burnouts, and other activities that wear out tires quickly. In other words, you should replace your Jeep highway tires every six years.
Some owners can stretch the life of stock Jeep tires to ten years or more, but this comes with hazards. As tire rubber ages, it hardens and becomes more brittle and prone to cracking. This can lead to a catastrophic failure, like a blowout.
How Long Do Jeep Off-Road Tires Last?
As we touched on earlier, it’s safe to assume that off-road tires won’t last as long as highway tires on a Jeep. This is especially true if you drive on the highway with them, as highway driving is notorious for wearing out tires with an aggressive tread.
Additionally, the more aggressive the tire, the shorter its highway lifespan will probably be. This is because aggressive tires have less tread contact and thus more wear on the existing tread. Off-road tires have longer lifespans if they’re driven primarily off-road or on dirt or gravel.
A set of high-quality off-road tires on a Jeep will last between 30,000 and 50,000 miles. The average lifespan of aggressive Jeep tires tends to be around 40,000 miles, but there are exceptions in both directions. With frequent highway use, the lifespan is about five years tops.
Tire lifespan can be measured in two ways—years and mileage. Off-road tires can last just as many years as highway tires (and perhaps more), but hardly ever last as many miles. Again, this is due to the use of the tire and also the composition of the rubber.
Off-road tires are made with softer rubber, which is another primary reason why they wear out faster. But why not buy a tire with harder rubber? Well, that would defeat the purpose, as off-road tires use softer rubber to grip better on uneven surfaces.
Think about it—the tire can mold to the ground and increase its useful surface area. This is also why they wear out faster, as more of the tire (and less tread relative to its size) contacts the flat highway.
Do Jeep Winter Tires Last Longer?
Yes, winter tires last longer on Jeeps. This is because winter tires have higher tread but don’t sacrifice contact area as off-road tires do. Winter tires are also made with more robust rubber, which stays supple in cold weather and doesn’t wear out as quickly.
When Should I Rotate My Jeep’s Tires?
Jeep Wranglers require frequent tire rotation, especially when used in 4-wheel-drive. It’s also essential to rotate your tires if you’re running off-road tires or mud terrains. The factory recommends rotating your tires every 5,000 to 7,500 miles or every time you get a major tire service done.
How to Increase Jeep Tire Life
It’s easy to increase the life of your Jeep tires. First, be sure to follow tire rotation recommendations. Rotate mud terrains and large off-road tires more frequently, as they wear out faster.
Always keep tire pressure in the recommended range, and check it frequently. Additionally, get leaks repaired promptly, and replace your Schrader valve and valve caps every once in a while.
Balancing your tires is key to extending their lifespans. Also, well-balanced tires prevent vibrations and uneven tire wear. Alignment is also key, and have your front axle camber checked and kept within spec.
All of these steps are vital, especially if you use your Jeep off-road. Lift kits and other modifications can further degrade tires over time, especially if they knock any of your suspension components out of alignment.
Driving Habits that Increase Jeep Tire Lifespan
The most important thing you can do to increase your tire life is to drive properly. Avoid using 4-high or 4-low on dry pavement. And if you must, avoid turning aggressively. Additionally, don’t accelerate or brake too hard—and never allow your brakes to lock up and skid the tires.
If you drive primarily on pavement, it’s best to choose an all-terrain tire instead of aggressive off-road tires if you’re concerned about tire life. Additionally, keep your tires clean and free of debris once you’re back on the road.
About THE AUTHOR
Working as a restoration tech on exclusively Mopar offerings of the late 60’s and early 70’s honed the skills to build what I consider the most prestigious make of American cars of that era. The iconic slant six, behemoth 426 Hemi and everything in between shaped my view on the automotive world. I’ve translated those skills towards vehicles that “everyman” has access to enjoy and Mopar influence still plays a significant role.Read More About Tyler Herndon