What is the average life span of a tyre?

For an optimal driving experience, it is essential that the tyres are in good condition. Damaged tyres can increase fuel consumption, negatively impact car handling, and reduce car stopping distance. As such, you should track your tyre lifespan for a better driving experience.

But, what is the average lifespan of a tyre? How do you check your tyres are still in good condition? And how often should they be replaced? Discover all this and more in this Pirelli guide!

How long do tyres typically last?

It's not the easiest thing to determine the average tyre lifespan. This is because not all drivers drive in the same way, or even use the same tyres on the same car. Additionally, the quality of the tyre, the road type you typically drive on, how far you drive in a year, and the age of the tyre itself will all impact the tyre lifespan.

According to the European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation (ETRTO), tyres can be considered new for 5 years from their manufacturing date. On average, safety groups recommend changing your tyres when they are 5 to 6 years old, or after 20,000 (front) or 40,000 (rear) miles. Front tyres typically get worn down faster and won't usually last longer than four years or so. However, tyre rotation, when carried out correctly, can help to improve tyre lifespan.

However, you will also need to change your tyres sooner if you see signs that they might not be working as well.

What affects the lifespan of a tyre

If you think your tyre might be getting on in years, first check its age using its DOT code. Then there are a few signs of wear and tear you should check to determine if your tyres need changing. These include:

  1. Worn down tread
  2. Cracks in the rubber
  3. Air pressure loss
  4. Wobbly wheels at high speeds

Let's look at these in more detail.

How to check tyre lifespan

Knowing when your tyre was made and understanding the signs of wear and tear, will help you decide if your tyre has reached the end of its lifespan and should be changed.

Date of manufacture

On the tyre sidewall, you will find a string of letters and numbers starting with the letters DOT. The last four numbers indicate the date the tyre was manufactured. The first two numbers (e.g. 33) are the calendar week and the last two (e.g. 23) the year.

Tread wear over time

Most new tyres have a tread depth of about 8 mm. When driving, friction from the road will gradually wear the tread down. In the UK, the legal limit is 1.6 mm so once the tread depth falls below this level, you will need to change the tyre. Really though, it's recommended that you change a tyre once the tread depth reaches 3 mm. With shallower treads, your tyres won't be able to stop as quickly in wet conditions. Worn tread is the first sign you need new tyres.

Cracks in the tyre

Another common issue, cracks are caused by leaving your car parked for extended periods or exposure to the sun. Rubber is pliable and this, when the car is being driven, helps make it more elastic, lubricating the tyre. Without a lot of driving, tyres can dry out resulting in cracks. Elasticity is also lost as the tyre gets older and is exposed to UV light for longer. To increase the lifespan of your tyres, you can park in shade and drive regularly.

Air loss

Tyres that lose pressure quickly may also be past their prime. As the tyre ages it can develop weaknesses and air loss can occur through cracks in the tyre, through degradation of the seal between the tyre and the wheel, or deterioration in the valve stem. Of course, some tyre pressure loss is normal, and you should be checking and topping up once a month. But, if you're doing this more often, it could be a sign of age. Consider changing your tyre if this is the case.

Wobbly wheels

If your wheels feel wobbly at speed, you should get the wheel balance checked. With unbalanced wheels, the weight becomes unevenly distributed, causing more tyre wear than normal. However, fixing the problem quickly can prevent the problem from escalating, so you won't need to get new tyres. The longer you leave it though, the more damage can occur, and you will need to change the tyre.

Keep a spare

It's always a good idea to have a spare tyre in case you need to change a tyre on the road. Full-size spares should be properly inflated, regularly checked for signs of ageing, and included in any tyre rotation. Compact, temporary spares are intended as a quick fix and should not be driven on for more than 50 miles and at 50 mph or less.

Regularly checking your tyres and switching them out when their lifespan is up, is good practice to get into.

Nearest dealer

If you have questions about tyre rotation or other aspects of your tyres, get in touch with your nearest tyre dealer and stay safe on the road.
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