To stay safe and keep your car running as long as possible, you should make sure your vehicle is resting on tires in good condition. After all, a lot is riding on them. The weight of your car and everything inside, running at highway speeds, ends up with a palm-sized contact patch between each tire and the road.
When is it time to replace your tires?
The most general rule people use is to buy new tires after six years or 40,000 miles. However, this is a very rough estimation. Most tires have an average lifespan between 25,000 and 50,000. With such a wide range, it is crucial to know when your tires need a replacement. Without, you are risking flats, blowouts, or losing your grip on the road mid-drive.
Factors Behind Tire Wear
What causes your tire to deteriorate over time is multifaceted. Because there are so many factors that can affect their wear, calculating how long they can last beyond an estimate is not a good idea. You should replace them safely to stay safe on the road. Driving with new and more efficient tires prolongs the life of your vehicle anyway.
Proper driving will extend any tire’s mileage. Fast cornering and hard braking, for example, will wear them down fast. Safe driving with gentle cornering, smooth braking, and easy acceleration on a smooth road will, on the other hand, avoid unnecessary wear and tear.
Hitting potholes and bumps will damage your tires. Glass and nails can cause an immediate flat or blowout. If you run into a curb when driving or brush against it when parking on the street, you can create internal damage or offset the wheel alignment. You can see that you hit a curb with a bump on the side of your tire, indicating you need a replacement immediately. With a messed up wheel alignment, your steering will start shaking as you drive at higher speeds.
Then, there are the places you drive. Sometimes the lifespan of a set of tires is significantly impacted by where you live. If you are driving on dirt roads as opposed to smooth asphalt or concrete highways, you are probably going to need to look into a set far sooner.
Although, there is a downside to driving in the city. In the 1950s, it was discovered that the tropospheric ozone in larger cities deteriorated tires far faster than in smaller ones. Storing your vehicle in a climate-controlled garage can slow this process.
Exposure to the elements of the sun and rain will also expedite decay. Tire rubber can go through photodegradation from the sun’s UV light. In hotter states or if you have to leave your car out in the open and the heat, it is recommended you replace your tire sooner than usual, at the four-year mark. If your vehicle is on the street often, it will also sit in the water, rotting where it is closest to the ground. Once again, keeping your car in a garage can save it from both the heat and rain or snow.
Proper inflation is the largest factor in maintaining tires that will last. As we stated before, there is not a lot of surface area between your tire and the road. With properly inflated tires, it stays that way, keeping the tension that avoids premature wear on your rubber. Both underinflated and overinflated tires will have a shortened lifespan. An overinflated tire experiences more pressure than it was built to withstand. And an underinflated tire does not have enough pressure to hold up the optimal surface tension with the road, creating uneven wear.
It is important to remember to inflate your tires to the proper pressure, and not the maximum, in the cool. Your tires heat up when your driving. The heat causes the air to expand and pressure to increase, so you need that breathing room to avoid over-inflation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that drivers check their air pressure at least once a month. You can check what pressure your tires should be kept at on the label on the edge of the driver’s door or the B pillar. Your vehicle should have a built-in tire pressure monitoring system, legally required since 2007. But you should also measure it with your own tire pressure gauge.
Salt, dirt, dust, and a lack of moisture can present a problem for your tires. Just as how these will erode your vehicle’s exterior, they get in your tires’ pores and wear them down as you drive. Whenever you clean the rest of your car, you should make sure to get your tires. Proper cleaning includes using a stiff-bristled brush, a degreaser and all-purpose cleanser, two buckets, one with soapy water and one with water, and a tire dressing to protect them.
Frequency of Use
It will surprise many to hear that driving a car more frequently will extend its lifespan. Turning the tires over circulates the tires’ oil, preventing cracking and drying. However, this is different from a lot of driving. For example, a long road trip where you put an excessive number of miles on your car at once will wear your tires down more than usual. These are one of the times you need to keep a more careful watch on them, especially their air pressure.
While it seems obvious that tires are going to wear down over time, this is not just about the amount of time they are on the road. Even a spare or unattached tire will degrade with time. Some experts will say that drivers should replace their tires after six years. But it is recommended that you do not keep your tires ten years after their manufacture date.
You can find out how old your tire is using the last four numbers on your tire’s DOT (Department of Transportation) code. Your DOT number is part of the inner ring of numbers on your tire’s sidewall. The four-digit code at the end stands for which week out of the year and which year it was manufactured. So, a number of 1820 means the tire was made in the 18th week of 2020.
Tire tread refers to the surface that stays in contact with the road, as opposed to the grooves. Tread gradually gets worn down as you drive. A new tire for most vehicles usually has between a 9/32 and 11/32 inch tread depth. You need a good tread depth to drive. It is what causes the friction that grips the road. And the grooves divert water and debris in the street. If you let it get worn down too short, you cannot drive safely on the road. The legal limit is 2/32’’. But it is recommended you get them replaced before the tread depth gets down to 4/32’’.
You can do a rough test yourself using a penny at any point. All you have to do is place a penny upside-down into the tread grooves. From there, if you can see all of Lincoln’s head, then you know you need a tire replacement. However, if the tread covers the top of his head, you know your tread depth is above 2/32’’.
Buying a tread gauge yourself is also an option. They are inexpensive and more exact. When measuring, either way, you should measure at three different points around the circumference of your tire to get an accurate measurement.
It is recommended that you rotate your tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. By doing this, your tires receive even use and wear. If your spare is a full-sized tire, then you should include it in the rotation. Otherwise, you should spend as little time on your spare as possible. Most spares are built to be light to carry with you.
Your Ford Dealership Tires
Our dealership sends your car off the lot with the proper tires. This means, when you come in for a replacement or inspection, we can give you the tires they leave the manufacturer with. We give you the best prices with coupons.
Our 16 Major Brands
We carry the major name brands and fitting for all makes and models:
- BFGoodrich ®
- General Tire
- Kelly Tires
- Michelin ®
- Nitto ®
- Pirelli ®
- Toyo ®
- Yokohama ®
Factory-Trained Tire Installation
Your local Ford Dealer has factory-trained service technicians. We have 40,000 across America. They find the best tires for your model and at the best price. Many of our dealerships offer our Ford’s Low Price Tire Guarantee, where we beat the competition’s price by $1. Check with your local dealer for details.
Full-Service Maintenance and Repair
While you bring your car in for tire inspections and replacements at your Ford Dealership, they can inspect and repair the rest of your vehicle. By checking your vehicle before its first needed inspection at 30,000 miles, we can catch any possible problems before that point.
By having your tire installations and inspections done with us, you can also benefit from our:
- Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts
- Parts and labor warranties
- Clean and comfortable waiting areas with Wi-Fi
- Shuttle service to and from your destination for overnight maintenance
- Our friendly and knowledgeable staff and technicians
Ford Protect TireCARE Tire & Wheel Protection
Our warranty protection, Ford Protect TireCare (FPT), insures you for everyday road hazards. The policy covers all wheel repair and tire replacement costs from glass or metal in the road, potholes debris, nails, blowouts, etc., and includes a $100 reimbursement on towing to the nearest Ford dealership.