Even though new technological developments increase the efficiency of products, it’s a known fact that high-tech products are way more fragile than conventional ones. Therefore, owner manuals or warranty documents gain wide currency. However, these documents are valid as long as you follow certain rules. That’s the point that tire care gets into the game.
In fact, following the warranty rules and tire care are exactly the same things. For instance, you should periodically rotate your tires if you want them to last long. This’s also a must for all-terrain tires if you wanna take advantage of the warranty.
In this article, I’ll detailly explain tire care and maintenance. Moreover, following these tips will help you to drive your manufacturer into a corner regarding the validity of the warranty.
Table of Contents
How Long Should Tire Last on Average?
Tires have tons of categories. All-terrain, mud-terrain, all-season, summer… The list is going on. These tires have different using intent, different using conditions, and different designs.
Well, no surprise all of these tires have different average wear life.
The below list will give you a brief idea about the average tread life. Though worth reminding, these are average numbers. Depending on tread design, using conditions, and driving style, the number can be changed dramatically.
Average Tire Tread Life by Category
|Average Tire Life||Minimum Tread Depth for Replace|
|All-Season||60,000 – 75,000 miles||4/32” –> Summer 2/32” –> Winter|
|Summer||30,000 – 40,000 miles||2/32”|
|Winter||25,000 – 35,000 miles||4/32”|
|All-Terrain||50,000 – 60,000 miles||2/32”|
|Mud-Terrain||30,000- 40,000 miles||2/32”|
|Highway-Terrain||70,000 – 90,000 miles||2/32”|
|Competition/Track Tires||10,000 – 20,000 miles||–|
Note: 3PMSF marking generally decrease tread life by 15%.
In this list, I also share the minimum tread depth numbers to replace your tire. If you’ll use your tire below this number,
- You’ll lose traction
- Regulations will punish you
- Handling and hydroplaning issues likely to happen
How Long are Tires Good for?
Tires are made with rubbers. Well, rubber is an elastic material and it tends to lose functionality in time. Therefore, all tires have a certain birth and death time.
In that case, the Department of Transportation has certain rules. The birth date of tires must be indicated on the sidewall of the tire. This date of birth is called DOT in the market.
Tires can be used for a total of 10 years as 5 years of storage and 5 years of use. However, some sources sum these numbers up and say that tires can be used for 10 years. Well, that’s correct.
10 years of use doesn’t occur any issue. However, tires stored for more than 5 years cannot be used. Though worth reminding, the 5-year period is valid when the tires are stored correctly.
How to Read DOT Number?
Even though you can learn a lot about your tires with a DOT number, in our case, we’ll use it to indicate the tires’ day of birth and places. Edgeways, the age of the tire and production plant.
Let’s begin with the day of birth. We’re looking for the 13 digits and capital DOT at the beginning of these digits. The DOT number is placed on one side of your tire. So, you should check both sidewalls of the tire.
After determining the place of the DOT number, reading it is the easiest part.
Let’s assume that our DOT number is DOT FD AP JLO 4518.
Regarding the production year, you should look out the last for numbers of the DOT number which is 4518. The first two number is the week of the year(45/52). On the other hand, the last two number states the production year which is 18(2018). In that case, your tire has been made in the 45th week of 2018. From that point on, you just have to calculate tire age by using the current date.
Regarding the production plant, you should check the first two digits out. Every plant has its specific plant codes. In that case, FD is the plant code of Yokohama, Japan. This method can help you to understand if your tires have been made in the USA or not.
Here is the full list of Tire Production Plants: https://www.tirebusiness.com/assets/PDF/TB114762321.PDF
How do I Choose the Right Tires?
Long-lasting rubber starts with the right tire selection. If your tire doesn’t match your usage or vehicle, there is no way that you can get satisfying tread life.
I recommend you to follow the below items before making a purchase,
- Use the tire size that is recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer. You can find it on the inside door jam of the driver’s side door
- Check your vehicle’s load and speed indexes.
- Determine your driving conditions. For instance, if you want an all-terrain tire only for its appearance, try to use passenger metric tires. LT tires may kill your comfort. Moreover, due to their heavyweight, LT tires tend to wear faster.
Michelin has a solid guide for tire selection. You may wanna check it out –> https://www.michelinman.com/auto/auto-tips-and-advice/tire-buying-guide/how-to-choose-tires
Note: You can use the TireRack tire decision guide for an easier load and speed index determination –> https://www.tirerack.com/content/tirerack/desktop/en/tire_decision_guide.html
How do You Take Care of Tires?
Well, the right tire has been selected. Even though the right tire selection increases your tires tread life, that’s not enough. Now, it’s time to make proper tire care.
Preventing uneven wearing is the key to tire care. Due to ensure even wearing, the below items should be part of your maintenance layout.
Check Your Tire Pressure Regularly
Inflation pressure is the key to long-lasting tread. Most of the time, vehicle owners ignore the importance of right inflation pressure.
The payload capacity of tires is completely related to inflation pressure. That basically means the air inside the tire carries all the load.
On the other hand, the main duty of tread design is transmitting load to the ground and providing the best performance regarding your conditions. In that case, the tires’ contact patch gets into the game. You may call it footprint also.
So, when you use your tire over or under-inflated, the contact patch doesn’t work as it’s designed. For instance, under low inflation pressure, the shoulders don’t step on the ground properly on the ground and that causes uneven wearing(see all of them) on the shoulders. However, if you use them over-inflated, that’ll cause uneven wearing on the center. Eventually, if you don’t aware of incompatible inflation pressure, your tires will become useless in a couple of months.
As a result, you should check your tires’ inflation pressure at least once a month. For the best fit, you can check the label on the driving door.
Even though this section isn’t crucial for some categories of tires, rotation is highly important for tire maintenance.
Not only equal wear on one tire but also equal wear on all 4 tires is very important for long tire life. However, equal wear on all 4 tires is impossible because
- Load distribution of our vehicles doesn’t equal for all 4 wheels.
- Tires on the traction axle always wear quicker
- Your number of turns to the right or left is not the same
- Due to aggressive turns, inner our outer shoulder of the tire can wear more
As a matter of fact, even if you do everything right, your tires may wear unevenly.
In summary, rotation is a must for a long-lasting tire. Rotation is recommended every 5,000 miles or every oil change.
Your rotation type can change due to tire patterns. I recommend you to check Bridgestone’s guide out –> https://www.bridgestonetire.com/learn/maintenance/tire-rotation/
While wheel alignment is important for tires, even tread depth is also important for wheel alignment. These two are highly related and bonded to each other.
In that case, I recommend you to re-align your wheels every 10,000 miles. This frequency might be slightly tight, however, let’s stay on the safe side.
Note: If your vehicle doesn’t go straight when you leave the steer in starting position, you need a wheel alignment.
Even though your tires don’t have any issues, a bent wheel can kill your tire.
A bent wheel can cause the leaking air or cracked tires bead.
If you don’t realize the issue,
- The leaking air will cause irregular wearing in time
- Bead crack is unsafe and can even cause a blown-out while driving
So, wheel inspection is highly crucial for a long-lasting tire. Check if your tires properly fit their wheels.
Stay Away from Tire Shining
Tires are high-tech products and their rubber contains tons of different lubricants. Some of these lubricants come to the surface of the tire over time. The main duty of these oils is to protect them from the sun.
Well, tire shining products contain different kinds of chemicals, and these chemicals sometimes react with lubricants. Well, lubricants lose their effect and sun cracks started to show up.
If you’ll follow the above rules, you’ll get as maximum as you can get from your tires. However, the below points are still vital
- Using the tires as a set(4 of them) always works best
- If you have a flat tire and the difference in tread depth on new and old tires is more than 2mm, change all set
- Don’t use winter tires over 7 Celcius degrees
- Don’t use all-season tires under 7 Celcius degrees
- Please pay attention to load range and speed index. These metrics are highly important if you expect decent tread life.
- You can click here to see the difference between SL and XL-rated tires
I hope the article was helpful. If you have any further questions, you can leave them in the below section.