How Long do Car Tyres Last on Average?

By David Sholicar

There are no hard and fast rules about how long a car tyre should last, with the lifespan of each tyre governed by a wide range of factors. Weather conditions, the temperature, road conditions and even your driving style can all influence the length of time a tyre remains in a good, usable condition.


How long should your car tyres last?

A question our tyre professionals are often asked is “how long should car tyres last?”. This is definitely a “how long is a piece of string” question because no matter how experienced our qualified fitters may be, they don't know how often you drive, whether you tow, how fast you go, the road surfaces you drive on or in what weather conditions. They do not know how many passengers you carry, how often you hit the kerb when parking or whether you often park in sunshine. Above all, they don’t know how often you check your tyre pressures. All of these factors affect the mileage that you get from tyres. If you're unsure whether you're due new tyres, read our article about it here.
It also depends on when you consider a tyre should be replaced. Although the legal minimum tread is 1.6mm, it is sensible to replace regular summer tyres when they reach 3mm, and winter tyres at 4mm.If you want to know more about the tyre tread check out our article about new tyres tread depth.

If I do everything right, how long do car tyres last?

As a very loose guide, the RAC suggests the tyres on your drive wheels (usually the front ones) ought to last 20,000 miles. The same tyres on a passive rear axle can reach almost double that. If you swap your front and back wheels every year or two you can equalise the wear and get about 30,000 from the set. The advantage is that you can then replace four together - which is better for the car’s handling and safety. To get 20-40 thousand miles, you have to look after your tyres and moderate your driving.

It also depends on the type of tyres. High performance tyres, optimised for handling at speed, usually wear more quickly - so it isn’t necessarily true that more expensive tyres last longer. Winter tyres are optimised for safe grip on ice and snow and they too can wear more quickly on ordinary open roads. Most manufacturers claim that run-flat tyres have similar durability to conventional tyres, but in our experience, many owners change them a little more often.

In years, how long do tyres last?

If they are looked after, a car tyre has a “shelf life” of up to 10 years. Again, this is just an estimate because every brand is constructed from slightly different compounds. More important are the conditions the tyre is exposed to. If you literally keep a tyre on a shelf, protected from air, dampness, light and temperature fluctuations, it will be good to drive for at least 10 years. If left on an unused vehicle, they will be damaged in a matter of months if you don’t jack up or rotate the wheels. On the road, tyres need scrutinising after 5 years of age.
You can’t keep your tyres wrapped in cotton wool, but you can still maximise their lifespan by parking in the shade, keeping them clean and using a garage.
Unless you drive very little, your tyres will be worn out by road use before perishing becomes an issue. If you keep a spare set of winter tyres in the garage most of the year, age could eventually become an issue. However, winter tyres are built to be more resistant to extreme conditions so it will be a good few years before you need to worry.
All tyres bear a 4-digit code that tells you when they were made. The first two digits are the week and the second the year. For example, “1914” means they were made in late spring 2014, not at the outset of WWI.

Choosing tyres for durability

For some people, mileage is not the first concern. High speed handling or safety on icy roads could weigh far more heavily, and that is sensible. Be aware that tyres made from a harder compound will last longer but sacrifice performance in braking and cornering. It is better to choose a tyre with a good balance of characteristics.
If your motive is to save money it could work out cheaper to buy less expensive tyres and change them more often. For example, although Michelins have a good reputation for mileage, they are unlikely to last twice as long as Falken, Avon or Sumitomo tyres that are half the price. Tyre changes are inexpensive at Protyre, and tyre checks are free.

How long does it take to change a tyre?

Protyre will have you in and out very quickly indeed but it is always wise to choose your new tyres first using our tyre-finder widget, and pre-book using our online contact form.

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About the author

Article Author Photo
By David Sholicar
David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and expertise is dealing with the DVSA and MOT’s for Protyre. As the Authorised Examiner Designate Manager ( AEDM ) David deals with applications for changes to the many Vehicle Testing Stations ( VTS’s) including managing the growth of the Number of MOT testing stations that Protyre operate, allocating MOT tester roles, and monitoring the MOT Test logs to ensure that Protyre MOT standards are maintained as the best in the industry.
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