Tyre age – How old are my tyres?

How long do tyres last?

Get all the answers about tyre durability with our handy guide

The tread on car tyres wears down as you use them, which means you’ll have less grip on the road. When they wear down too much, you’ll have to replace them.

Find out how long the average tyre lasts and what to think about when you buy new car tyres.

How long do tyres last?

How many miles a tyre lasts depends on how its driven and stored. Under normal driving conditions, you should get a minimum of 20,000 miles out of front tyres on a front-wheel-drive car.

For rear tyres, it can be double that  around 40,000 miles. We recommend moving worn rear tyres to the front when the front ones wear out.

Car tyres
In this article


We provide 24/7 roadside assistance.

How do you tell the age of a tyre?

You can find out how old your tyres are by checking for a code on the side of the tyre. 

  • Check the sidewall for the letters DOT
  • Next to this, there’ll be a 4-digit number code
  • The first pair of numbers is the week of manufacture
  • The second pair of numbers is the year of manufacture

For example, 0720 means the 7th week of 2020.

Tyres manufactured after 2000 have a 4-digit code. If you see a 3-digit code, this means they were made before 2000 and should be replaced immediately.

How does wear affect tyre lifespan?

As you drive, the tread on your tyres will start to wear. Some factors have a big impact on how long tyres last before they wear down. 

  • Vehicle weight - Heavier cars wear tyres faster, and carrying excess weight around will cause faster tyre wear
  • Driving style – Aggressive cornering and braking increases wear
  • Position – The driven wheels wear faster, i.e. front wheels on a front-wheel-drive and rear wheels on a rear-wheel-drive
  • Speed – Driving at high speeds increases temperature and wear
  • Pressure – Under or over-inflated tyres will wear quicker
  • Alignment – Tyres will wear quickly and unevenly if wheel alignment is wrong

Find out more about tyre tread and wear.

How does age affect tyre lifespan?

If your vehicle doesn’t get driven much, it's possible for the tyres to need replacing due to ageing rather than wearing out:

  • Tyres degrade naturally through exposure to heat, sunlight (ultraviolet or UV rays) and rain
  • Environmental damage can cause them to crack if tyres are left outside
  • The amount of damage depends on the exposure and the severity of the weather
  • They’ll last longer if they’re kept indoors in a garage out of the sun and rain

Damage through ageing is more common with caravans, trailers and other vehicles that are only used occasionally.


How long should tyres last before cracking?

As tyres are made out of rubber, a naturally occurring material, you can expect them to degrade over time (even if you don't use your car very much). It's best to at least get your tyres professionally checked every 5 years – in most cases, you'll need replacement tyres.

When should I change my tyres?

Aim to replace your car tyres when the tread depth gets below 3mm and before it gets below 2mm.

Find out more about the legal tyre tread depth.

Tyres don’t usually last long enough to be replaced due to old age. Usually, the tyre tread wears down quicker than that. For older tyres, you can:

  • Check for signs of cracking on the sidewalls of tyres 4 or 5 years old if your car's parked outside
  • Replace them if the cracking’s severe

Any car tyre specialist will be able to give you advice if you're not sure.

Basic legal requirements

Remember that your tyres must always meet these basic legal requirements:

  • Be compatible with the others on the car
  • Be in a generally good physical condition
  • Be correctly inflated to the recommended pressure
  • Have sufficient tread and depth of tread – at least 1.6mm in the centre ¾ of the tread in a continuous band around the tyre

The more tread your tyres have, the better your grip on the road and the shorter your stopping distances.

Read more about replacing tyres:

Tips for buying new tyres

Tyres have to meet a lot of different, and sometimes conflicting, requirements. That means there are a few things to consider when you’re choosing what type of new tyres to buy.

  • 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

Buying part-worn tyres

We wouldn’t recommend buying part-worn tyres. You don’t know the history of the tyres, like how they’ve been stored or looked after. You may not know how old they are either.


Original fit car tyres

We’re often asked if it’s important to stick with the same tyres your car came fitted with when it was new.

There’s no legal requirement to stick with the same tyres. But car and tyre manufacturers do work closely together during the development of a new car model to pick the size and tread pattern best suited to the car.

They’ll consider things like noise and handling as well as the look of the vehicle. Changing brand or pattern could affect handling or mean more noise.

New tyres to the front or back?

Check your handbook first for guidance. If it doesn’t give any specific advice, the best or newest tyres should be on the back. That’s a good rule whether your car’s front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive.

Making sure you have your best tyres on the back will favour ‘understeer’ rather than ‘oversteer’ when grip's limited, like in very wet or cold conditions.

  • Understeer – The car tends to go straight on even though you’re turning the wheel
  • Oversteer – The back end breaks free and the car is likely to spin

Tyres with deeper tread grooves are less likely to puncture too. So if you put your new tyres on the back and worn tyres on the front, you’ll be less likely to get a punctured back tyre. It’s easier to control a car that has a damaged front tyre than one with a damaged rear tyre.

Spare wheels and new cars

Don’t assume that any new car you’re buying has a full-sized spare in the boot. Many cars now have a 'skinny' spare or just an emergency tyre sealant kit. There may not actually be enough room to carry a full-size spare.

If you do have room for a full-sized spare, then it may be possible to buy one as an optional extra. You may also have to buy a modified boot floor and/or a jack, and wheel removal tools.

Your spare wheel needs to be in just as good condition as the wheels you drive on. So make sure your spare is in good nick and don’t use an old worn tyre as a spare.


Are tyres over 10 years old illegal?

From February 1, 2021, it became illegal to operate a heavy vehicle or certain types of minibus with tyres more than 10 years old. Generally speaking, the same rule does not apply to smaller vehicles like cars, but we highly recommend getting your tyres replaced every five years to be safe.


Are 7-year-old tyres ok?

Even if your tyres seem ok and you haven't used them very much after seven years, they're still likely to have degraded significantly in quality over that time. You should get the tyres replaced at the earliest possible opportunity.

Published: 17 November 2016 | Updated: 22 April 2024 | Author: The AA

Need new tyres?

Buy new car tyres online from us and get free fitting, to suit you, at home or work