Average life of car tyres: When to change car tyres?

Team Ackodrive6, Jun, 2022

There’s no way to tell the exact lifespan of a car tyre. From tyres’ design to the driving style, a variety of factors decide how long would be the life of car tyres. This is why you must know how to regularly check your tyres for damages and change them when the time is right.

Here, we will give you valuable tips on checking the condition of your tyres and changing them whenever necessary. But first, let’s talk about what factors decide the life of a car tyre.

Average life of car tyres

What factors affect the tyre’s life?

India is a country of diverse climate and road conditions. Some areas are hot with plains, while others are cold mountain regions. Hence, the average life of car tyres in India depends vastly on the climate and terrain where you regularly drive your vehicle.

Hence, the car tyre life differs from user to user. However, if you notice the causes of tyre wear, it will help you avoid or resolve those problems early on and increase the lifespan of your tyres.

Below are the factors that affect the life of car tyres.

Tyre’s age

No matter how maintained your tyres are, they gradually deteriorate over time. If not changed, old tyres impact car performance and increase the risk of severe damages and accidents.

On average, the life of a tyre can be either 5 years or 50,000 km. Based on whichever comes first, you should get them replaced. But sometimes you may have to change the tyres sooner due to other damages. 

Tyre damages

Once damaged, a tyre loses its lifespan even if it is repaired. Even minor damages over time lead to wear and tear, causing the tyre to lose its longevity. Hence, you must try to avoid damages such as cuts, bulges, punctures, uneven tread wear, etc. 

Road conditions

You can’t control the conditions on a road while driving your car. But the road conditions definitely control the life of your tyres. Good road conditions are obviously better for tyres' lifespan than rough road conditions.

Tyres’ longevity reduces if you regularly drive on roads having sharp objects, potholes, speed bumps, etc. These factors put uneven pressure on tyres and increase the chances of damage.

Climate conditions

Extreme climate conditions also increase the pace of wear and tear on tyres. For instance, a long journey on a hot day will intensify the heat generated in tyres, causing them to damage faster. Similarly, driving while it’s raining or snowing also damages the material of car tyres.

Improper tyre usage

Tyre usage involves certain best practices every user must follow. Neglecting the proper usage practices can cause damages, reducing the longevity of tyres. Some of the improper practices include the following.

  • Driving your car on snow or ice using summer tyres.

  • Not having the same type of tyres on all four wheels.

  • Using incompatible rim and wheel sizes.

  • Driving with tyres that don’t comply with the vehicle manufacturer’s load index and speed capability guidelines.

  • Driving your car with a re-inflated tyre after it flattens.

  • Fitting a spare tyre that doesn’t match the size of other tyres on your vehicle.

Driving habits

Your habits as a driver also affect the life of car tyres. Excessive speeding, emergency braking, and sudden stop/start can damage tyres.

Similarly, your ignorance towards the car’s condition can also speed up the wear process in tyres. If you fail to consult professionals about an issue, it tends to damage car tyres faster. 

Types of tyre damages in cars

There are different types of tyre damages caused due to irregularities in driving conditions. In this section, we explain the types and causes of damage in tyres.

Centre tyre wear

This will be a common wear pattern if you drive a high-power car. The extreme acceleration generated in these cars causes wear at the tyres’ centre. The urban start-stop traffic also adds to faster tyre wear.

Due to modern mid-range cars coming with powerful engines, this type of tyre damage has become pretty common these days.

Heel-and-toe tyre wear

This is another expected wear you may notice on the rubber blocks on the surface of tyres. The rolling tyres deform the shoulder blocks due to the compression caused by the road’s surface. The continuous rolling puts pressure and rubs the surface of the freestanding block shapes on tyres, causing them to lose their edges.

Minor heel-and-toe tyre wear is nothing to worry about. However, extensive damages can impact the performance while driving. Most commonly, this wear can occur due to long journeys on straight highways. 

One-sided tyre wear

Incorrect axle arrangement can cause one-sided wear in tyres. Depending on toe-in or toe-out axle geometry, tyres can damage from their inside or outside walls.

Similarly, using smaller than the required tyre size can also disturb the wheel alignment and cause one-sided wear. Drivers usually remain unaware of this problem until the damage reaches its extremities. 

Bulge or impact break

A bulge is a damage to the tyre’s casing. It occurs when the internal cord of a tyre breaks or deforms due to an impact with some obstacle. The impact causes the sidewall to bulge out due to the destroyed cords within the casing.

This type of damage can happen while incorrectly driving over speed bumps or kerbs. A wrong angle or excessive speed over a kerb can put stress on the tyre casing, resulting in the breakage of cords.

The extent of tyre wear depends on the obstacle size, angle and speed at the time of impact. Drivers can try to avoid this kind of damage by being slow and careful while crossing an obstacle. 

Sidewall indentation

A sidewall is the visible part of a tyre from its sides. Sometimes, you might notice small indentations or dimples on tyre sidewalls. The sidewall dimples can occur due to pressure caused between the tyre rubber and the internal carcass cords. Though they are mostly superficial and harmless, you must get them checked to determine the cause. 

Tyre cuts

Cuts can occur due to external forces like bad roads, stones, glass pieces, or any other sharp object. Any cut on the tyre requires a professional checkup to avoid further damages. 

Tyre punctures

If a sharp object pierces through the tyre surface, it is called a puncture. Deep punctures can release air pressure from the tyre. Long nails or screws can find their way inside a tyre and cause this loss of air pressure. You should get a puncture checked and fixed immediately to avoid a tyre burst.

Also, read: How to Fix a Tubeless Tyre Puncture? - Check the Procedure

When to change car tyres?

Here are the five critical indicators that tell you when to replace car tyres.

1. Excessive tread wear

All vehicle tyres have treads that are grooves or cuts on the surface created for better tyre-road contact. During rain or snow, these grooves also prevent the formation of a water layer between the road and tyre surface, saving the car from slipping.

Over time, the depth of the tread gradually decreases, which reduces traction while driving. If not replaced, excessive tread wear increases the potential risks of accidents while driving. Experts recommend a change of tyre if the tread depth reaches 0.5 cm or below. However, you can also read the manufacturer’s manual to know the right time to change the tyres.

2. Damaged sidewall

The sidewalls of tyres support the weight of the vehicle. So, any bubble, dent, crack or other damage can result in serious issues. If not changed, a tyre with a damaged sidewall can burst in the middle of a drive.

Thus, you must keep an eye on the sidewalls of tyres, especially on a long trip or during hot temperatures. Do not hesitate to change a damaged tyre as quickly as possible. 

3. Uneven wear patterns

As mentioned before, there may be many uneven tyre wear causes like wrong alignment, loose wheels, high-speed cornering, etc. Uneven wear can bring down the drive quality and cause instability while driving at high speeds.

Hence, you must regularly check for any uneven wear patterns in tyres. If the tread depth seems uneven between the sides and the centre of the tyre, then you must buy new tyres. While getting the tyres changed, get the wheel balancing and alignment checked as well to avoid uneven wear in the future. 

4. Extensive usage

After a long drive in some extreme terrains, your vehicle tyres are likely to experience some serious damage. Even if you can’t see any damage on the outside, the structural strength may be compromised from the inside of the tyre.

Hence, you should get your tyres checked professionally after an adventurous trip and replace them if required for safe journeys in the future. 

5. End of tyre’s lifespan

Commonly, the car tyre life in India is 5 years. The tyres suffer the wear and tear of ageing from the inside and/or outside. Even if you don’t see any tread loss or visible damage on the tyre’s surface, it will be safer to replace it after 5 years. 

How to check the tyre condition of your car?

In order to know when to change your car tyres, you must check the tyre condition regularly. Below are the steps to help you check the tyre wear patterns and causes.

Step 1: Measure the tread depth to ensure it is more than 0.5 cm for proper traction.

Step 2: Ensure that the tread depth is even on both sides and in the middle of a tyre.

Step 3: Get the tyre pressure checked and notice if a tyre is losing pressure frequently.

Step 4: Check the tyres for any visible signs of damage like bumps, punctures, scrapes, cuts, cracks, bulges, etc.

Step 5: Look for the ‘DOT’ symbol on the tyre’s sidewall to examine the manufacturing date. The last four digits will tell you the week and year of manufacturing. This is how you can check tyre age.

Step 6: Visit a professional to get the tyres repaired or replaced, as per the requirement.

What is a bulge in a tyre, and how to fix it?

A bulge is a swollen part on the surface of a tyre. A serious impact on a rough road surface can cause internal damage to the tyre. As you keep driving with the damaged tyre, the deformation becomes visible as a bulge. Sometimes, it can take a while to become visible to the naked eye.

Every tyre contains a reinforcement cord below its outer surface. This cord provides the shape and structural strength of the tyre. A bulge occurs when the shape of the cord gets compromised. The air pressure disrupts the shape as it tries to come out of the tyre from its weak spot. If not fixed on time, a bulge can cause a tyre burst.

The immediate tyre bulge reasons include the following.

  • Hitting potholes at high speeds

  • Car accident

  • Driving over the kerbs at wrong angles

  • Manufacturing defect

The best solution for a bulge is to replace the tyre. However, if you decide to fix it, here are the things you can do.

  • Get a reinforced patch installed from the inside. It will not completely resolve the defect, but you can keep using the tyre for a little longer.

  • Get the damaged area sewed and vulcanised (rubber treatment at high temperature) using reinforced rubber.

  • Get an inner tube installed.

Tyre maintenance tips to increase the life of your car tyres

You can follow a tyre safety checklist to delay the time of replacement. These are the tyre safety tips essential to increase the lifespan of car tyres.

  • Avoid hard acceleration and sudden braking as much as possible.

  • Do not drive with over-inflated or under-inflated tyres.

  • Get the wheel alignment done regularly and ensure the good condition of the suspension components.

  • Follow a tyre rotation method suitable for your vehicle type.

Frequently asked questions

Below are some key questions answered about car tyres.

What is the average life of a tyre?

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You can measure the average life of a tyre in two ways.

  • Tyre life in years - 5

  • Car tyre life in km - 50,000

How can I check the tread depth in my car tyres?

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You can use a coin and place it on different areas of the tread to check the depth. It will also let you notice if the tread depth is decreasing equally at the centre, inside and outside of the tyre.

How do I look for punctures in a tubeless tyre?

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You can look for any sharp object that might have pierced through the tyre. Or, pour water or soap solution on the tyre surface and notice any air bubbles forming due to air pressure coming out from the punctured spot.

Should I replace tyres only in pairs?

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While the decision depends on the tread depth, it is better to replace tyres in pairs on the same axle to avoid tread imbalance.

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