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The lifespan of a tire depends on a number of factors: its design, the climate, your driving habits, the road conditions you’re driving on, and how well you care for your tires. While there’s no way to tell exactly how long a tire will last when you buy it, here are three questions you can ask yourself that will help you determine if they need replacing.

1. How old are your tires?

Some tires actually come with a recommended “best before” date from their manufacturers. Even if the treads appear to be in good condition, the rubber components can still break down. This rule also applies to spare tires. If you’re missing your owner’s manual, or you feel you put a lot more wear on your tires than the average driver, here are some guidelines to consider:

Are your tires over five years old? Once your tires have been in use on the road for five years or more, they may be in fine shape, but they may need replacing. You should have them inspected by a professional at least once per year.

Are your tires over (or approaching) ten years old? As a precaution, most tire manufacturers recommend that you replace tires ten years after the manufacture date. At this point, it’s better to replace your tires so you aren’t compromising your safety on the road.

2. How hard are you working your tires?

If something seems “off” while you’re driving – If you’re sliding while breaking on a rainy day, if you lose traction when accelerating if you hear strange noises or feel a pull on the wheel, if you feel a shake – it could be your ball joints or tie-rod ends, or it could just be that your tires are worn or out of balance.

By checking your tires for signs of damage, you’ll have a better idea if they need replacing, before you end up with a flat and find yourself changing tires on the side of the road. If your ride feels rough, and if you notice vibrations in your car, you should reduce your speed, drive extra carefully, and pull over in a safe spot to stop and inspect your tires.

Once a month and before you go on long road trips, check your tires for these signs of damage:

  • Cracks
  • Bulges
  • Small stones, nails, and other troublesome objects
  • Damaged valve caps
  • Uneven tread wear
  • Shallow tread

Your tires’ treads are the points of contact between your car and the road. You don’t want to drive on worn tire treads because the shallow grooves reduce your car’s grip on the road, which affects your car’s responsiveness in poor weather conditions.

Tip: how to check for shallow tread

You don’t need fancy equipment to check if your tires’ treads are in working condition – a quarter will do the trick. Follow this simple test from Michelin to see how (using a Canadian quarter as an example):

3. Are you making these mistakes?

All these mistakes will wear down your tires, meaning you’ll need to replace them sooner:

Don’t: Use your summer or “all-season” tires on snow and ice
Don’t: Mix summer or all-season tire types on your car
Don’t: Use tires on damaged rims
Don’t: Use tire and rim sizes that are not compatible
Don’t: Use tires that have a speed capability and load index lower than recommended by your car manufacturer (check your car’s owner’s manual)
Don’t: Re-inflate a tire that has been run flat or seriously under inflated for an extended period of time
Don’t: Use a spare tire of a different size at speeds higher than 80 km/hour

Do: Check out our 6 upkeep tips for longer-lasting tires here!

Extend the life of your new set of tires

If you enjoyed this article, check out our introductory guide to tire maintenance and learn about all the things you can do increase the lifespan of your tires, so you won’t need to replace them as often.

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