How Long do Tires Last?
How long tires last will of course depend on many things, most of which will be gone over later in this article. But the two biggest indicators and factors of how long you can expect to get out of a set of tires include the manufacturer’s tread-life warranty (if offered) and the type of tires that you have. Let’s dive in a little deeper into both of these and see how they will affect the life you can expect to get out of your tires.
The manufacturer’s tread-life warranty on tires is more than just a warranty per se, it’s an indication of how long the tires are expected to last. If you’ve ever bought tires, you have almost certainly been offered different tires in terms of how many miles they are designed for. For example, a salesperson at a tire shop might have offered you “60,000-mile tires” or “90,000-mile tires”. This is one of the most common ways of describing tires to customers and it’s a direct reflection of the manufacturer’s warranty.
What this number is referring to is how many miles the tire manufacturer — think Michelin, Cooper, Pirelli, etc. — says those specific tires will last, but only if they are maintained properly. And if you perform consistent maintenance and do everything the correct way to get the most life out of your tires, such as tire rotations, alignments, balancing, and keep the correct air pressure, the manufacturer can warranty them out and prorate a new set of tires.
So without even taking the actual warranty into account, this number is roughly what you can expect to get out of a set of tires. And what that means is how many miles you can get from your tires before they are no longer road-worthy, which is typically described as having four 32nds of an inch of tread depth or less (Note: tread depth is measured in 1/32” of an inch, so you would never hear ⅛” of tread depth, you will instead hear 4/32”). So in general, if a manufacturer offers a 60,000-mile tire, you can expect to get about 60,000 miles if you properly maintain them.
How Long Different Types of Tires Last
Outside of the manufacturer warranty describing roughly how long tires will last, the second biggest factor on tire life is the type of tires that you’re looking at. When you hear “type of tire”, you could expect to hear just about everything that makes a tire different from another. For example, you can have tires that are different sizes, have different treadwear ratings, use various load ratings, etc. But for the sake of this article, we are focusing on the three most common general types of tire — highway-terrain, all-terrain, and mud-terrain. This refers to the terrain the tire was designed for and is reflected in the tires’ appearance and performance.
Keep in mind that even though different types of tires will last various amounts of time, each one should still come with the aforementioned manufacturer’s tread-life warranty to give you an idea of how long it’ll last if the manufacturer offers one. But if you don’t know the tread-life warranty or you know that they aren’t always accurate because most people don’t maintain their tires correctly, it can be harder to get an idea of how long you can expect them to last.
Highway-Terrain vs All-Terrain vs Mud-Terrain Tires
Highway-terrain tires will typically last much longer than all-terrain or mud-terrain tires. Highway terrain tires are the most common options on the market so you’ll have a slew of options. You can find highway-terrain tires that will last anywhere from 40,000 to 120,000 miles or more depending on the brand, size, maintenance, and vehicle type.
Most cars and SUVs will exclusively use highway-terrain tires so this isn’t an issue, but with bigger SUVs and especially trucks, you might have to choose between tire types. Many people like the tires that look tougher, which is where all-terrain and mud-terrain tires come in. All-terrain tires are great for trucks that will be driven with a bit of on-road and off-road use, while mud-terrains are really designed for more hardcore off-road use.
Most mud-terrain tires don’t even include a manufacturer tread-life warranty due to their hard use, but you can typically expect to get around 25,000 to 50,000 miles out of them. For most people, the all-terrains are the best all-around option to put on their truck or SUV. All-terrain tires will typically be able to last anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 miles again depending on the manufacturer, vehicle type, and how they are maintained and used.
What Factors will Affect How Long Tires Will Last?
Now that you have a general idea of how long you can expect tires to last, let’s dive a little deeper and take a look at some of the factors that will take it a step further and affect how long tires will last:
- Tire Composition — The tire composition, or compound, will be the biggest determinant of tire life. A soft tire designed for performance like the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 is expected to last 45,000 miles. But a harder tire from the same manufacturer, the Michelin Defender should last twice as long at 90,000 miles.
- Treadwear Rating — Tires all have treadwear ratings imprinted on them during manufacturing, with a higher number expected to last longer than tires with lower treadwear ratings.
- Vehicle Conditions — If your vehicle is in bad shape, especially with bad or worn out suspension parts, your tires will not last as long as they would in a car in better condition.
- Driving Habits — The best way to drive for the sake of your tires is even, smooth pressure applied to the accelerator and also during braking. Fast starts and hard braking can significantly decrease the life of your tires over time.
- Terrain & Conditions — Tires will last the longest when driven on smooth, flat roads for the most part. This is why highway-terrain tires typically outlast other types. Rough terrain will wear tires out much faster as they need to do more work to move your vehicle along.
- Maintenance — Arguably more important than anything else on this list is proper tire maintenance. That means regularly getting your tires rotated and balanced, keeping your vehicle aligned (twice a year), and ensuring they are properly inflated as often as possible.
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding