Tyre life and age

How to get the most out of your tyres

Tyre grip gets worse as they wear

You’d hope to get a minimum of 20,000 miles out of front tyres on a front-wheel-drive car, and double that for rear tyres although we recommend moving worn rear tyres to the front when the fronts wear out.

Life and age

Tyres have to meet a lot of different, and sometimes conflicting, requirements.

  • Tyres designed for long life are made from harder compounds, but these may make more noise.
  • Tread pattern can affect noise too.
  • Tyres made from softer compounds will give a quieter ride but will wear out more quickly.
  • First fit (original equipment) tyres often last longer than replacements.

What increases tyre wear?

  • Driving style – aggressive cornering and braking increases wear
  • Position – front tyres wear faster because of movement through steering and tyres on driven wheels will wear more quickly
  • Speed – high speed driving increases temperature and wear
  • Load – excess load increases wear
  • Pressure – under inflation (through increased flexing and temperature) and over inflation (through reduced contact area) can both increase wear
  • Alignment – tyres will wear quickly and unevenly if wheel alignment is wrong of if suspension components like shock absorbers are worn.

How does wear affect grip?

Wet grip in particular gets worse as the tread on your tyres wears. This is more marked as the tyre wears below 3mm of tread and approaches the legal limit.

  •  Check your tyre’s tread depth more often once it gets down to 3mm and aim to replace tyres before the tread wears below 2mm.
  • This is more important as autumn and winter approach – better new tyres now than struggle through the cold and wet with tyres approaching the legal minimum tread depth.

At what age should tyres be replaced?

Tyres will normally wear out before they become unserviceable due to ageing.

  • Tyres degrade naturally through exposure to heat, sunlight (Ultraviolet/UV) and rain. The amount of damage depends on the exposure and the severity of the weather.
  • Damage through ageing is more common with caravans, trailers and other vehicles only used occasionally.

There are no hard and fast rules on age.

  • Check for signs of cracking on the sidewalls of tyres four or five years old if your car is parked outside and get them replaced if cracking is severe.
  • Any tyre specialist will be able to give you advice if you're not sure.

6 February 2017

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