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How long do car tires last?


Factors Affecting Car Tire Longevity
Kevin "Bud" Grimm watches the smoke billow from the rear tires of his 1971 Dodge during the burnout session at the River City Rod Run in Post Falls, Idaho. Grimm blew out both of his rear tires during the burnout.
Kevin "Bud" Grimm watches the smoke billow from the rear tires of his 1971 Dodge during the burnout session at the River City Rod Run in Post Falls, Idaho. Grimm blew out both of his rear tires during the burnout.
AP Photo/Jerome A. Pollos

In the movies, they make it look so cool: smoking the tires, drifting and even making screeching "emergency" stops when there's no emergency.

However, those are all extreme examples of how to sentence your tires to a fate of premature baldness. But even if you don't drive like you're filming a Hollywood chase scene, certain habits can make a profound difference as to the overall lifespan of your tires.

When it comes to car part longevity, few systems give as much visible and immediate feedback as the tires. These car parts are among the most basic, but they can speak volumes about your driving style, the roads on which they're driven, and even the condition of other auto parts and systems, such as the precision of your car's alignment.

In addition to the factors just mentioned, the following can also affect how long your tires last:

  • Outside temperature
  • Inflation pressure
  • Frequency of rotation
  • Appropriate pairing of tires on same axle (new opposite new, old opposite old)
  • Proper or improper loading of vehicle
  • Rating of the tire itself

One excellent repository of auto part information, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), says you can do several things proactively to lengthen the life of your tires, including:

  • Maintain the proper tire pressure
  • Avoid loading the vehicle with more weight than the manufacturer advises
  • Avoid road hazards
  • Inspect your tires for cuts, slashes and deformities

Even though automakers and their suppliers have found ways to test auto part longevity for a variety of components, tires remain something of a mystery. That's because as mentioned, so many variables can go into the treatment of a set of tires by any given owner. Have the tires been sitting under pressure but gone un-driven (a condition which wears them prematurely)? Have they been subjected to extreme temperatures? Have they been flogged on the street?

Tires have gone from typically lasting about 20,000 miles (32,187 kilometers) in the 1970s, to some long-lasting tires today that are able to get 80,000 miles (128,748 kilometers) of tread wear. But, as the saying goes, "your mileage may vary" [source: Tire Rack].

Save money and give yourself peace of mind by maintaining your car's tires. To find out how, go to the next page.


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