Your tyres do a magnificent job of keeping your car on the road in a huge array of conditions that can change on a minute by minute. One moment it can be warm and sunny, and the next, the heavens can open in a deluge of heavy rain, and that can be difficult for your tyres to cope with. But how long do tyres last and how can you maximise their life and make a tyre last longer?
The fundamental role of your car tyres is to keep you safe on the road. In order for your tyres to perform that role in a proper way, you should ensure their condition is good enough – and that it remains good for as long as possible.
How, then, can you prolong their longevity? There are four key points to be aware of – and to follow scrupulously – to keep your tyres in the best condition and stay safe on the road for longer.
Check your tyre pressure
Remember to check your tyres regularly. First of all, compare the measured pressures of your tyres against the official ones as stated in your car’s handbook. Usually you can also find these marked on a panel on the inside of the driver’s door frame.
Having the right tyre pressure is essential to maintaining your tyres in good condition. If you keep your tyres under-inflated, they will build up a huge amount of excess heat which will make the tyre wear faster and can eventually lead to failures such as tyre blowouts. Additionally, they are more likely to puncture because the rubber that makes up the tyre is softer and more susceptible to sharp objects going through them.
Conversely, if your tyres are over inflated, blowouts can happen too due to the greater pressures within the tyre. Over-inflation will also make your treads wear out a lot faster, particularly in the central section of the tyre.
Check wheel alignment
Having your wheels correctly aligned is crucial to ensuring a long life of your tyres. Incorrectly aligned tyres tend to wear disproportionately. Wheel alignment has to be carried out by a professional using specialist equipment and it is recommended that you get your wheels aligned if you have more than one tyre fitted, or every 12,000 to 15,000 miles travelled (approximately a years’ worth of travel).
You may start to notice that your tyres are starting to wear in an odd pattern, which will favour one particular part of the surface and may make your car a little difficult to control. You should also have your alignment checked if you hit a large pothole or run the car tyre against a kerb by accident. If this is the case, you should book your car in to change the tyres and have the alignment checked.
The tyre’s position is also important as the front and rear tyres wear at different rates as well as the camber angle of your vehicle, which influences the wear and tear of specific areas.
Inspect tyres for splinters
Similarly, you should inspect your tyres on a regular basis - arguably every month or two - to ensure there aren’t any splinters or sharp objects trapped within the tread. A stone, for instance, can wear at the rubber and, as the tread wears down and the weight of the car pushes down, this can force the stone to push against the inner layers, eventually causing punctures and other forms of damage.
Pay attention to tyre wear
You can make your tyres last longer if you keep an eye on how your tyres are wearing and take action if they appear to be wearing in a disproportionate way. Because most cars are only two-wheel drive (with front wheel steering, or rear wheel steering), the driven wheels – which are usually on the front of the car, so bear the weight of the engine too – tend to wear more, so you may want to rotate these tyres with the rear wheels so that all four tyres wear consistently.
Things to look out for as tyres get older
As your tyres age, it is only natural that their quality will not stay as good as it was. Many drivers prefer to get new tyres once their existing models reach a predetermined threshold in quality, while other drivers opt to get the most out of the existing set before investing in new models. However, to help you determine this, there are a few things to consider.
If your tyres are around 3 or 4 years old, you can start checking the sidewall for signs of cracks and other early tearing. If this cracking starts to develop, it will threaten the stability and safety of the tyre.
As tyres get older, small cracks can grow into larger problems if the tyre is left untreated.
Similarly, while checking the tread, you should ensure that it is consistent around the entire length of the tyre. If one area starts to wear down faster, then this should be treated as the actual depth of the tread for legal purposes.
Additionally, you may feel a difference in the tyres as an intuitive driver. When driving your vehicle, you are able to better determine the performance of the tyres. You might find that they handle worse on corners, due to wearing of the treads on the sides of the tyre, or become less resistant to aquaplaning as the sipes and grooves are worn away.
Watch how you drive
Driving dynamically will wear out your tyres faster than if you drive economically, for example. Cornering hard will put huge stress on your tyres and the heat of fast driving will increase wear significantly. If you keep your speed down, your tyres will last much longer and will be able to put up with all the different conditions on the road. Driving style is a huge factor in tyre wear.
Storing your tyres
Tyre storage is also key to maintaining them. Tyres will deteriorate and start to crack if they are left unused and the car’s weight standing on them so if you are going to be leaving a car for some time, it is always best to raise the car from the ground so that the weight is off the tyres to stop them cracking.
Tyres may also start to crack as they get older, and the rubber starts to delaminate, so if you are going to take a car off the road for a long time, it might be worth putting new tyres on when you get the car back on the road.