Buying new tires for your vehicle can be a significant investment, and most would prefer not to do it before they have to! But these days, when many people commute to work, school, and other destinations, tires play a major role in our day to day safety. So how will you know whether your tires are on their last mile or have plenty of life left? And is there anything you can do to avoid having to buy new tires sooner than you need to? 

Tire experts predict the average mileage of a tire at 50,000 miles, but this can vary widely depending on many factors.

What Factors Affect Tire Life?

Tire life is affected by many factors. Most tire experts predict the average life of a tire is 50,000 miles, but this can really vary depending on the type of tire, how it is being driven, and how well it’s maintained. 

Different types of tires are designed and constructed for different driving purposes, and features that give an advantage on one type of terrain can become weaknesses on the wrong type. Make sure you choose the best type of tire for your driving habits and needs. Driving habits also greatly affect how many miles your tires will last, so it’s important to assess if you’re driving in a way that protects or harms your tires. Lastly, it’s important not to wait until you have a problem to take care of your tires! Simple maintenance checks and care are some of the most important things you can do to extend the mileage life of your tires!

6 Tips to Get the Most Miles Out of Your Tires

1. Check your tire air pressure regularly.

Experts recommend that you check your tire air pressure monthly! In fact, a 2012 article by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that vehicles driving on tires that are under-inflated by more than 25% are 3 times more likely to get into a tire-issue related accident! Tire air pressure is measured in PSI, which means Pounds per Square Inch. Tires can lose roughly 1 PSI per month, and even more if the weather gets cooler. Why is this important? Driving on under-inflated tires causes faster tread wear and irregular wear patterns, and can also compromise the traction and handling of your vehicle. Making sure your tires are at the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure is one of the main ways to optimize tire life.

2. Rotate Your Tires every 5,000 miles or 6 months.

As a rule of thumb! Tires wear out differently based on their position on a vehicle, and on the routes you may habitually drive day in and day out. Rotating your tires every 6 months (or according to manufacturer specifications, if different!) Will help your tires wear more evenly, which extends their longevity. 

3. Correct Your Alignment.

These may seem unnecessary, but the truth is that taking a little extra time and money to have your suspension alignment corrected can prolong tire life. Tire alignment refers to which direction the front tires are pointing. Ideally, they should be parallel to each other, but things like driving over bumpy terrain, hitting up against a curb, or bouncing over a speed bump can cause misalignment, which increases tire tread wear unnecessarily. Signs that you may need to have your alignment corrected are if your car drifts to the right or the left, or your steering wheel vibrates or shakes while you’re driving. You may also notice the tread of your tires wearing down more in some areas than in others, which can also be a sign of misalignment.

4. Choose the Right Type of Tire for your Driving Needs and Seasons.

Different types of tires (like Winter, Performance, or Rough-Terrain tires) are specifically designed and typically feature different types of rubber that perform well in certain conditions, but may not hold up as well in others. For example, the rubber of snow tires is compounded to remain supple and soft even as temperatures drop below freezing to maintain traction. However, this soft rubber wears down quickly when driven in warmer temperatures. Performance tires are designed to give maximum traction and handling at high speeds, but don’t have the heavy duty construction of a Rough-Terrain tire, so a performance tire’s internal construction will weaken and be vulnerable to punctures if driven on rugged and rocky surfaces. 

Assess your daily driving needs, and the kinds of weather conditions in your region, and select a tire that fits those needs. Depending on your area, you may need to switch tires between summer and winter, but driving on the correct type of tire will help your tires get optimal mileage. 

5. Store Your Tires Properly. 

When tires are not in use, you’ll need to store them, and the storage conditions can make or break the lifespan of a tire. When your tires are in storage, make sure they are not exposed to drastic temperature changes, or moisture, and are kept away from hot pipes, direct sunlight, or ozone. Ideally, they should be stored in a cool, dry place indoors that is clean of any grease, solvents, or other substances that could deteriorate the tires’ rubber.

If you’re storing tires with rims, hang or stack them. If you’re storing tires without rims, you should store them standing upright. Remember that tires on vehicles that are not used often, such as trailers, RV’s or collectible cars still experience deterioration, and need to be inspected for signs such as cracking or bulging of the tread or sidewall, and should be changed once they reach 5 years from the DOT Week and Year date even if the tread isn’t worn down. (Read more about how to locate the Week/Year date of a tire here).

6. Relax on the Road.

Aggressive driving really takes a toll on your tires. Sudden acceleration and braking and taking sharp turns is hard on tires and can cause weakening and faster wear on the bottom and outside tread of the tires. Driving at higher speeds increases friction between the tire tread and the road, wearing down the tread and causing heat build up, which weakens the inner construction of the tire. To help extend the mileage of your tires, try to keep to more moderate driving speeds, and try to brake and accelerate smoothly and try to give yourself extra time to avoid sharp turns. 

How Do You Know When You Need New Tires?

No matter how well they’re maintained, everyone eventually needs new tires. How do you know when you need new tires?

Here are some ways to know for sure:

- Check the DOT Week and Year stamp on the sidewalls of your tires. Manufacturers recommend that tires not be used after 5 years from the Week and Year stamp on the tire. To find out how to locate the Week/Year stamp, you can read about it in this blog.

- Check your tire tread depth. Using a tire tread gauge is always the best option, but if you don’t have one, you can use a penny. Read about how to use a penny to check tread depth here. 

- Check for cracks in the tread or sidewalls of your tires. Cracking of the tire’s rubber means it’s not safe to drive on anymore, and should be replaced.

- Check for bulges or bubbling of your tires’ sidewalls. These mean that the tire’s internal construction is weakened, and air is escaping. If you notice this, don't drive on it, as it could cause a tire blowout. 

- Check the color of your tires. If it’s a faded gray color, this could be an early sign of dry rot, which weakens the tire’s construction. 

- Visually inspect your tires for any embedded nails or other sharp objects. Sometimes punctures like this can be repaired, but if not, you will need to replace the tire. 


When you know how to take care of your tires, your tires can better take care of you, and for longer! Browse some of the past Tire Research Blogs to catch up on information you might have missed, and sign up below for the Tire Research E-mail list, and get tire research, facts, and tips direct to your inbox monthly.