Tires last only just so long. They age whether they get used or not. Usually, tire wear causes car tires to become unsafe to use before most tires begin to break down due to exposure to the weather and environmental elements.
How Many Years Do Tires Last?Tires will only last approximately 6 years during normal use if their tread depth doesn’t reach the legal minimum of 2/32″ before the tire deteriorates due to age.
It is possible for tires to last longer if stored properly. 10 years or longer is not uncommon.
Although it is recommended to replace tires if they reach 10 years of age no matter their condition.
Proper maintenance will ensure you get the most out of your new tires. Avoiding aggressive driving habits, maintaining proper tire pressure, checking tire tread depth regularly, and ensuring you have your tires rotated and wheels alignment checked every 10,000 miles will help you extend tire life.
Let’s take a closer look.
Table of Contents
What Is Dry Rot On Tires?
Tire dry rot is brittleness and cracking that is the result of age due to the exposure to ozone and ultraviolet radiation over time. Ozone and direct sunlight cause the rubber compounds to dry out and lose flexibility.
As a tire begins to dry rot, it begins to develop very small surface cracks and sidewall weathering. The cracks grow in size over time and become more prominent.
Eventually, they grow to the point that they can become dangerous and cause a catastrophic blowout.
When Is Dry Rot On Tires Dangerous?
Under normal circumstances, tires last 6 years before dry rot comes bad enough to be considered dangerous. If stored properly, tires can last 10 years or potentially longer. Although, it isn’t recommended to use tires older than 10 years.
WHAT DOES TIRE DRY ROT LOOK LIKE?
Tires with minor dry rot but plenty of tread depth left can still be safely used. Once dry rot exceeds 2mm of depth it should no longer be used and be properly discarded.
5 LEVELS OF Sidewall Cracking
NEGLIGIBLE COSMETIC SIDEWALL Cracking
MINIMAL SIDEWALL Cracking
MINOR SIDEWALL Cracking
SIGNIFICANT SIDEWALL Cracking
MAJOR SIDEWALL Cracking
How To Check Tire Expiration Date
Tire manufacturers mold a Department Of Transportation (DOT) code onto the side of every tire sold for use in the United States. This code acts as a serial number of sorts so that recalls can be made if necessary.
You can find the DOT number on the sidewall by looking for a series of numbers and letters preceded by the letters “DOT”. The last few digits are the Tire Date Code.
As you can see in the image below, the date code at the end of the DOT number may have a frame around the date code at the end and possibly a frame around the preceding letters and numbers.
This is because this code is added after the mold the tire manufacturers create has been made and these codes are updated by adding additional metal plates to the mold to embed the code.
NOTE: The Date Code portion is often not on both tire sidewalls. The preceding portion, which contains information about the factory location and model tire will be on both sides. Be sure that you find the full DOT number so you don’t become confused about the true manufacturing date.
4 Digit Tire Date Code
Tires produced after the year 2000 have a 4-digit date code. The first two digits are the week of manufacture and the last two digits represent the year.
- 50 = 50th week of the year
- 22 = The year 2022
3 Digit Tire Date Code
Tires produced prior to the year 2000 have a 3-digit date code. The first two digits are the week of manufacture and the last digit represents the year.
- 50 = 50th week of the year
- 9 = The year 1999 or 1989
As you can see, it’s not possible to tell from the tire manufacturers date code the decade of manufacture with only three digits. This is why the tire Department Of Transportation and the Tire Manufacturers Association moved to the 4-digit date code format.
How Long Do Tires Last In Storage?
Tires can last up to 10 years or more when stored properly. Improperly storing tires can actually shorten tire life.
To properly store tires they must be:
- Sealed in airtight bags
- Kept away from sources of ozone such as electric motors
- Kept out of strong sunlight and other strong sources of ultraviolet radiation
- Protected from harsh environmental conditions such as rain and snow
- Kept from temperature extremes and temperature controlled environment
- Stacked on their sides or hung from hooks if mounted on wheels
- Stood upright on their tread if unmounted
Do Tires Go Bad In Storage?
If not properly stored, tires will age as quickly or even more so than those that are being used daily. When stored properly they will last much longer.
Eventually, it is reasonable to expect the aging process to overcome the protections of proper storage. For this reason, tire manufacturers recommend that tires older than 10 years be discarded and replaced with new tires for your safety and the safety of others on the road.
Can I Use 10 Year Old Tires With Good Tread?
Ten years is a long time for any tire to be able to survive the aging process, even if properly protected in storage. It’s not recommended to use tires over 10 years of age even if they are not showing signs of ozone and UV damage.
How Long Do Tires Last With Low Mileage?
The average American drives 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year. This means that the average tire wear on a tire with 60,000 miles of tread wear will last 5 years at 12,000 miles per year.
If your driving habits are less than the average American drives, you may find that the tread depth of your tires is still more than adequate to channel water out and away from your tires in rainy weather conditions well beyond 60,000 miles.
Eventually tires will begin to be unsafe to use for reasons other than tread depth being too low. Tires with low mileage will become a safety concern once they reach six years and should be replaced.
Ozone and ultraviolet radiation from the sun will break down the rubber compounds over time and cause them to become brittle. Cracks will form and lead to the rubber no longer being able to maintain air pressure.
This could happen in the form of a slow leak or it could cause a catastrophic blowout.
Is A 10 Year Old Spare Tire Still Good?
Spare tires rarely get used and are often neglected. They often won’t have proper air pressure and may have some sidewall cracking visible.
Even though they are protected from the weather and direct sunlight when stored in your vehicle, a spare tire will deteriorate over time. Temperature fluctuations and contact with ozone and pollutants in the air cause damage to the rubber over time.
Just like with any tire, spare tires should be replaced when they reach 10 years of age.
How Many Years Are Winter Tires Good For?
Most drivers find that they will get 3 to 4 winter seasons out of a set of winter tires. Driving style, uneven tire wear, proper maintenance, and road conditions all play a part in how long tires last.
Winter tires must be stored for months that reach temperatures above 40º F. The soft rubber tire tread will cause extreme premature tire wear if you try to drive on them during the warmer summer months.
Below are some links you may find helpful when learning about tires
- How old – and dangerous – are your tires? – Edmunds
- How long should a new set of tires last? – Car And Driver
Tire tread wear isn’t the only factor that should be considered for when to replace your tires. But no mater the condition of the tire tread, tire age should not exceed six years for most tires, and never exceed 10 years despite how well they have been stored.
Good luck and happy motoring.