How Long Does a Tire Last?
Carmakers, tiremakers and rubber manufacturers differ in their opinions about the lifespan of a tire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no specific guidelines on tire aging and defers to the recommendations of carmakers and tire manufacturers.
Many automakers, including Ford, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz, tell owners to replace tires six years after their production date, regardless of tread life. Tire manufacturers such as Continental and Michelin say a tire can last up to 10 years provided you get annual tire inspections after the fifth year.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association said there is no way to put a date on when a tire "expires" because such factors as heat, storage, underinflation and conditions of use can dramatically reduce the life of a tire. Here's more on each of these factors:
Heat: NHTSA research has found that tires age more quickly in warmer climates. NHTSA also found that environmental conditions, such as exposure to sunlight and coastal climates, can hasten the aging process. People who live in coastal states and other areas with warm weather should keep this in mind when deciding whether they should retire a tire.
Storage: This applies to spare tires and tires that are sitting in a garage or shop. A tire that has not been mounted and is just sitting in a tire shop or your garage will age more slowly than one that has been put into service on a car. But it ages nonetheless.
Spares: They usually don't see the light of day, but they're still degrading with time. If the tire has been inflated and mounted on a wheel, it is considered to be "in service," even if it's never been used. And if a truck's spare is mounted underneath the vehicle, it's exposed to heat, dirt and weather — all reasons to plan on replacement.
Conditions of use: This refers to how the tire is treated. Is it properly inflated? Underinflation causes more tire wear. Has it hit the curb too many times? Has it ever been repaired for a puncture? Tires on a car that's only driven on the weekends will age differently from those on a car that's driven daily on the highway. All these factors contribute to how quickly or slowly a tire wears out.
Proper maintenance is the best thing a person can do to ensure a long tire life. It is important to maintain proper air pressure in tires, rotate them regularly and get routine inspections.