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How long do tyres last?

Bradley Jando | Tuesday 17th March 2020 4:42pm

Old worn tyres with cracks and low tread depth

Without your tyres, your car wouldn’t be able to move. This is one of the reasons why they’re such an important part of the vehicle. It’s imperative that you keep them in excellent condition too, as poor quality tyres could increase your stopping distances and may change the way in which the car handles and grips the road. So how long should your tyres last and how do you know when they need to be replaced?

How long should tyres last?

It’s hard to provide an exact figure as your tyre’s lifespan will vary depending on your driving technique, how often you drive the car, where it is parked most regularly, the type of roads you drive on, how many miles you drive per year and the quality of the tyre itself. Any one of these things could be the difference between your tyre lasting three years or 10 years. A general recommendation is that your tyres are changed every 20,000 miles or every 10 years. However, they may need to be changed sooner than this if you notice any of the following:

  • The tread is worn down
  • cracks in the rubber
  • air pressure is being lost more quickly than normal
  • 'wobbly' wheels, particularly at high speeds

Brand new tyres will usually have a tread depth of around eight millimetres, however this can reduce significantly over time. As the surface of your tyre rubs against the road’s surface, friction is created that will cause the tyre to wear down. The legal limit is 1.6 millimetres, so you mustn't allow your tread depth to drop below this level. The shallower your tyre tread, the longer it could take your vehicle to stop, particularly in wet or icy conditions.

Worn-down tread is generally the first sign that you need new tyres, so keep an eye on it, particularly if you do a lot of mileage.

Cracks are quite a common issue that can be caused by leaving your car parked for long periods of time or in direct sunlight. The rubber that your tyres are made from is naturally quite pliable, providing the material with a certain amount of elasticity. When you drive your car, the chemical that is applied to make the material even more elastic is released and lubricates your tyres. Therefore, when the vehicle is parked for an extended period of time, the tyres can dry out more quickly, causing cracks to appear. The rubber also loses this elasticity as the tyre ages and if it’s regularly subjected to UV rays.

To avoid cracks, drive your car regularly and try to park it in a shady spot, such as a garage. This isn’t always possible, but it could increase the lifespan of your tyres.

If you’re finding that your wheels are losing more air than they should be, you may want to consider shopping around for replacements. Air loss can be a sign of age, as the tyre develops weaknesses. Air could be lost through the seal around the alloy or through cracks. It’s usual for some pressure to be lost, even in a new tyre, but you should only be putting air in your tyres once a month.

Finally, ‘wobbly’ wheels could also be a sign that it’s time to get some new tyres. When your wheels become unbalanced, their weight is distributed unevenly. This can result in excessive tyre wear. If this problem is fixed quickly, you may not need to purchase new tyres, however the longer you leave it, the more severe the damage will be.

How many miles should tyres last?

Your front tyres should last for around 20,000 miles before being changed and your rear tyres may last longer than this. For example, this means that they should be changed every four years if you average 5,000 miles per year. However, they should be swapped sooner than this if you notice any of the problems listed above.

How long can a spare tyre last?

If you have the space available, you should try to make sure that your vehicle contains a spare wheel should you ever need to change a tyre on a public road. However, the spare should always be a temporary fix and not a permanent solution. Spare tyres are not made to last as long as standard ones.

You shouldn’t drive for more than 50 miles on a spare tyre or at more than 50 miles per hour, as it may not be able to withstand the pressure. Spares are there to get you home or to the nearest repair centre and not for long-term use.


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