Our tires are where the rubber meets the road. They are responsible for traction, handling and assist in braking and steering. You wouldn’t get very far without them, that’s for sure.
When driving, you need to be responsible for your safety and those who share the road with you. Maintaining your vehicle to be road-worthy is vital, and your tires are among the most important parts of being safe. Don’t be afraid to buy new tires. Your old ones earned their wear, and it’s time to let a new set protect you.
As amazing as they are, your tires won’t last forever. There is a finite life to them, and it’s important that you know when it’s time to “retire” them. So, when are tires too old to use? Let’s learn more about the average lifespan of tires:
Every tire is stamped with a manufacturer’s date. This information is located on the tire’s sidewall and will have the week and year they were made. Your tires should be good to use for 5 to 7 years regardless of tread depth. This depends on how many miles you put on the vehicle per year but is a good gauge.
Rubber weakens over time and will deteriorate from oxidization, causing them to stiffen and become brittle. Under a load, they are susceptible to cracking, so watch for signs of this and replace them when they hit the 5-7 age window.
If you want to get the most out of your tire lifespan, here are six simple things you can do:
- Regularly check your tires for damage and wear
- Check tire pressure regularly and don’t over-inflate
- Have your tires rotated based on the manufacturer’s recommendations
- Make sure to have scheduled wheel alignments
- Measure your tread depth every six months
- Drive responsible and defensively
No matter the tire, over time, it will wear. Checking the wear pattern can alert you to alignment and tire pressure issues, so you want to have even wear across the whole tire to get maximum life.
The tire’s wear dictates the tread depth, and this is measured to see if they are safe to drive on or need to be replaced. New tires have between 8-9 mm depth, and 1.6 mm depth is the minimum required for safe driving in Canada.
You can use a Toonie to give you a pretty accurate gauge of your tread depth. Just put the coin into the tread and look at what is exposed. If the tread hits the bear’s paws, you have pretty new tires. If it covers the outer silver ring, they are half worn but still good to go. When the tread only covers up to half the letters, you should replace them.
Tire Bulges & Bubbles
You need your tires to have an internal frame that is structurally strong. If you see any bulging or bubbles flaring out of your tire, air pressure is reaching the outer layer of the rubber. Regardless of tread wear, this tire needs to be replaced immediately.
Tire Cracks & Cuts
Sidewall cracking is a good indication of advanced age on your tire. The rubber gets brittle and can develop cracks from sunlight, heat exposure and ozone exposure.
Cuts happen from a sharp impact like a rock or metal accident. Check for this type of ageing and damage because these tires are no longer road-worthy.
The life of a tire has a lot to do with the conditions it’s put under. While all the signs above point to the condition and wear, this can be accelerated or slowed depending on how hard you are on them.
Speed heats tires fast and can lead to air loss and faster wear. High speed is followed by excessive braking, which is also hard on tires. If you hit potholes at higher speeds, it can do more damage than rolling over them slowly.
Overloading your tires with too much weight compromises their integrity and can lead to blowouts. Overinflation is also bad for tires. Not correcting alignments and not rotating tires drastically shortens their life, and any contact with curbs and other obstacles will damage. It is hard on the entire vehicle, including the tires, so it is best to take it slow and be a defensive driver when you drive aggressively.
Don’t be fooled if you have tires that you aren’t using. The age whether you use them or not. If they are stored in your garage, they will be exposed to different temperatures from freezing to excessive heat as well as a range of humidity levels. Unfortunately, this speeds up the ageing process.
Ensure to clean them before storing them and put them in airtight bags. Store them in a cool, dry place with no direct light or ozone. When it is time to use them again, inspect them carefully to ensure they haven’t aged out.