Hooniverse Asks: Do You Replace Tires Just Because of Age?

You know the old phrase use it or lose it? A lot of people think that applies to automotive tires, although I guess that in that instance you’d also lose them by using them too. You may have seen the Seth Myers episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee where the Late Night host asks Jerry about the condition of the tires are on his 1973 Porsche 911 RS. Jerry responds that you don’t go by mileage with tires, you go by age, and for him at least, five years is old age. He has a pretty substantial collection and so if he’s switching out the rubber on them every five years I’ll bet they’ve got a bay named for him over at the downtown Manhattan PepBoys. Fortunately he’s a brazilianaire so the financial aspect probably isn’t an issue, but of course there’s always the hassle.
If you’re like me, then both the hassle and the cost of changing out tires on low-usage cars and trucks can be issues. Now, I know what you’re saying, you can’t put a price on your safety, but I say you’re wrong, I most certainly can put a price on my safety, it’s called life insurance, and the price is a cool half-million.  What about you, do you consider changing the tires on your vehicles based on age, regardless of the wear? If so, what’s your expected tire half-life?
Image: StandardShift Forums

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

  1. P161911 Avatar

    I try to check for dry rot as well as wear. Don’t go by a specific age. I do have an old tire story. I saved the original white wall tires off my first car, a 1981 Buick Regal with tires that were probably about circa 1988. Those tires eventually found their way on to the boat trailer (18′ bass boat). In about 2000 or so I was towing the boat and the tread completely separated from the tire in one giant chunk. These were NOT retreads, just 12-15 year old tires.

    1. longrooffan Avatar

      Trailers affect tires differently due to sidewall and load conditions. The average shelf life for a “trailer tire” is three years. After that, make sure to have a spare or two for that next road trip.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        We had to replace a tire on the pontoon boat trailer over Memorial Day. It was an odd size a little almost square 10″ tire with a 22″ OD, 8″ wide. Luckily that trailer had 4 tires and the marina is only 1-1/2 miles away.

    2. Scoutdude Avatar

      Trailer tires are a bad choice if is there is a truck tire in a suitable size. Trailer tires are rated for a higher load than the same size load range B passenger tire but less than a load range C truck tire. They are pretty close to a SL or XL load range B tire in weight ratings. ST (special trailer) tires have a speed rating of 62 or 65 MPH so they just aren’t suitable for use on today’s roads. There are a couple of trailer tires that are rated to 75mph but there are only a couple of those and they are not available in a full range of sizes. The other advantage of trailer tires is that they are made with more polymers which make them stay softer when sitting for long periods of time. However if you use the trailer at today’s freeway speeds they will get worn out very quickly and they are very likely to have a blow out if drug along at 70mph for any length of time. So unless the trailer is an around town unit trailer tires are the wrong choice.

    3. Jason Allen Avatar
      Jason Allen

      Trailer tires are made differently too. You shouldn’t use passenger car tires for a trailer.

  2. Kiefmo Avatar

    The 1980 Rabbit ‘vert had really ancient tires with good tread. I only drove on them until I could come up with the cash to replace them with 15″ black steelies and new rubber, but I kept the original 13″ steelies and beauty rings to pass on to the next owner in case he wanted more originality.

  3. Sjalabais Avatar

    I’m a cheap guy, but I don’t fool around with tires and brakes. Since I’ve had lots of beaters, I’ve bought lots of tires, too…both based on tread and age. 3-4mm is the minimum acceptable tread, and 6-7 years the age barrier. We have a pretty mild, wet climate and little harsh sun, so I figure it is winters with salted roads that cause the most tire wear.

  4. Scoff Law Avatar
    Scoff Law

    I live in Oklahoma, everything is 12-25 miles away from wherever you are even in the city, so I can’t really say that age has been a problem for me because I usually wear them out in two or three years anyway; i would most likely ditch any tires that were five years old or older and any tire that didn’t look nearly pristine (excessive wear, cracks, dry rot), I like not crashing too much to do otherwise.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Wow, 2-3 years? I drive what should be around 10000 miles/year and have yet to replace tires I’ve bought myself. A set of tires mounted on wheels will set me back 500-650$, so it is a quite significant investment.

      1. Scoff Law Avatar
        Scoff Law

        My average is 15-20k annually and I use Continental Tires which are generally a soft compound tire with good grip and (reasonably) soft ride with a built in road hazard warranty from Continental, compared to the OEM Michelin’s the $500-650 I pay for them is preferable to the $800-1,000 for the Michelin’s.

    2. nanoop Avatar

      Same. I drive way less per year, but the tires are usually worn before they hit six+ years.

  5. tonyola Avatar

    When I inherited my mom’s pristine ’94 LeSabre in 2008, the original tires were still on the car with around 25K miles. Although there was plenty of tread left, the tires had hardened to the point that it was noticable inside the cabin when driving. I quickly swapped them out for new tires before something disastrous happened.

  6. Vavon Avatar

    My tyres never need to be changed because of age…

    1. duurtlang Avatar

      I actually replaced the rear tires on my 205 due to age shortly after I bought it last year. There was enough thread, but they had a DOT code from the 90s and the rubber seemed hard. While requiring me to invest in new tires, I actually liked it as it meant the car hadn’t endured much of what that Rallye went through.

    2. dr zero Avatar
      dr zero

      And here I thought that having the inside rear in the air would save tire wear.

  7. caltemus Avatar

    The snow tires on my firebird are from the 90s. They were cheap at the used tire place and got me through the winter better than the new all seasons that were on there; so no, I wouldnt replace a tire just because it’s old.

  8. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

    On cars, I wear through them before age would be an issue.
    On bikes however… I have replaced numerous tires on my non-day-to-day bikes due to dry rot, or other age related issues.
    On my road bike, it’s never an issue. I put too many miles on and run softer tires than my mileage would suggest. I go through a tire annually, front wheel then goes to the back and I put a new one up front.
    on my mountain bike I have 4-5 sets of tires depending on conditions. One for winter, hardpack, mud, etc. So there I do have to check for rot, cracking and other issues.
    My city bike, I don’t care about the tires as I ride that bike for errands. It has thick kevlar-reinforced slicks that weigh nearly what my mud tires weigh on my MTB. I think the furthest I’ve ever ridden it in a day was 30 miles and the majority of trips are under 3. If i have a tire go, I am either close to home, or near a shop. Those tire have to be roughly 8 years old and have probably close to 5,000 miles on them. They’ll go eventually, haha.

  9. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    A visual check is more important than a hard fast age rule. A few years sitting in the sun is going to degrade them more than a decade in climate controlled storage. I’d be a bit more cautious as they get older, though. I’d be pickier about the condition of a 10 year old tire than I would be about a 2 year old tire.

  10. Tanshanomi Avatar

    Tangentially related: shopping for tires for the Kizashi. I want nice steering and grip, but KC has JUST enough snow and ice that all-season tires with decent wet/snow/ice performance make the most sense. Currently looking at the Pirelli Cinturato P7, Continental Purecontact and Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season. Any recommendations between these, or others I should consider.

    1. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

      I think my Rabbit had the Conti Purecontact on it from the factory. They were alright over all, pretty good in the rain. I wasn’t impressed with their longevity, but noise was low and the ride was good. I can’t comment on their all season abilities, because Florida doesn’t really see low enough temperatures. I eventually replaced them with Yokohama Avid Envigors, which I liked a little bit more. My main worries here are hot and dry, as well as wet weather performance.

    2. quattrovalvole Avatar

      I’ve heard good things about Conti DWS regarding its performance in wet/dry and even light snow. It’s a higher performance tire than the PureContact but my local tire shop sells it for only $40 more for the whole set than the PureContact.
      In fact I’m going with either the DWS or PureContact when my Potenzas wear out. It’s only a matter of deciding whether I want the extra performance of the DWS or the PureContact’s fuel saving and (I assume) softer ride. I assume you intend to use the same set year-round?

      1. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

        I would agree with this as well. I have the DW (non-S) on my Volkswagen right now and they have been great so far. I’ve heard the DWS is just as good.

      2. Tanshanomi Avatar

        Yes, I did dedicated winter rears on the Town Cow for several years, but we have so many warm stretches with dry pavement in the wintertime that they wore way too quickly.

      3. Tanshanomi Avatar

        After talking with the manager of the local tire shop we’ve used for years and reading the TireRack reviews, I’m going with the Pirelli Cinturato P7. It seems to be a better all-around tire than the PureContact, and they would have the Conti’s freighted in which would make the total cost about $20 a tire higher than the Pirellis.

      4. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

        The Conti DWSs are my fave for Pearl, my RWD V8 ’05 STS.
        Unfortunately, they _just_ changed to a new model, the DWS06, and while I need new shoes, I can’t wait until they produce enough in an acceptable size.
        This car has staggered wheels, 235/50/17 and 255/45/17, so I’d split the difference and go with 245/45/17s all around, if I could get even those.
        As it is, I have Discount Tire hunting down four BFG super-sport A/S (all-seasons, yeah, I know, but for the driving I do in this car, they’re fine) tires in the 245/45/17 size.
        I’ll have the DWS06s next time ’round, though.

        1. Scoutdude Avatar

          TireRack still has the DWS in the staggered sizes you need. Note TireRack does not charge you for the tire replacement certificates like Discount Tire does saving you $15 per tire and they do reimburse for flat repair.
          Be careful when switching away from staggered sizes if the car has traction control it can mess things up as the computer is looking for different speeds from the front and rear tires. In this case the difference in height is minimal between the two sizes and the rear is smaller so you should be OK, but I’d check the vehicle specific forums to see if anyone else as gone to the same size tires all around and if they have had issues, assuming that you do have traction control.
          The other problem with running smaller diameter tires that stock comes to the rev limiter and shift points. When the tire is smaller it effectively changes the overall final drive ratio. The problem is the computer takes into account the time required to make the shift and a smaller tire messes with that calculation. What this means is that if you go for a WOT shift the car can sometimes bounce off the rev limiter before making the shift.

          1. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

            Thanks for the info. I’m a moderately intense gearhead, so yeah, I dug into things before going this direction.
            I don’t do replacement certs, and while TireRack does have the DWSs, between shipping, mounting, and balancing, I’m looking at close to a $350 difference between four of those and four BFGs (doughnut spare). The BFGs won’t last as long, which is fine, because I really want the DWS06 shoes, and I figure this car has two sets of tires left while in my ownership, because I’ll be tired of looking at it (though I do like it quite a bit).
            The staggered thing on this car isn’t a problem, and it’s quite common for people to go with the size on the front at all four positions. Sometimes winter tire creativity is required, as well.
            Finally, I’ve had the engine and transmission computers tweaked a bit, so the trans does (mostly) exactly what I tell it to. The guy who did the mods for me said he got the 5L50E to shift slightly more quickly than the automatic in a C4 or C5 ‘Vette.
            Knowing I have a modern, non-V Cadillac which will chirp 1st-2nd shifts makes me happy. Also, it’ll never shift up, if I don’t want it to, it’ll just bounce off the limiter, which GM never intended, but it’s the way I want it to behave.
            Before all y’all go off on my for not saving a manual, two things:
            1. My first seven or eight vehicles were manny trannies, and of those four were three-on-the-tree machines.
            2. About 15 years ago, I broke a bunch of bones, including a double compound fracture of my lower left leg…I tried to do a manual for about six years after it healed as best it was going to. Nope. 10-11 minutes in stop-and-go traffic, and I’m in tears of pain.

    3. salguod Avatar

      I had Eagle all seasons on my Mazda3 when new. They were decent on dry pavement, OK in the rain but horrible in any snow. They only went about 32K and that was pushing it. I had OEM Goodyears on my Outlook that were crap and I bought a set of Comforttreads for my Odyssey that performed well, but only went about 2/3 of their mileage warranty. I’m not a fan of Goodyear.
      I ran two sets of Dunlop SP Sport Signatures on the 3 and loved them. Great all around tire with a 60K warranty. This last set I went cheap since I was pushing 150K and got a set of Falken Ziex ZE-612+. Half the price but half the mileage warranty. Not quite as good, but better than the Eagles.
      Scan the reviews at tire Rack and Discount Tire’s sites, there is usually some good info in there from folks with similar cars.

  11. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

    I didn’t change based on age until I bought the Miata. From what I’ve heard from fellow owners, to really have fun with the car safely you really need new tires every four years or so. The tires that were on it when I bought the car were 7 years old and were kind of scary to drive on in the rain. In second gear, going through a left turn, the car would go sideways. I could catch it, but really I’d prefer it do that in a more gradual and predictable way, especially if they’re only having to control 128hp. Then I bought some used earlier wheels, which were lighter, but the tires were a year older. So now I’m on new Sumitomos and am happy with them. In the long run, I’d like to change up to 205/50R15, for performance and because I’ve just always loved the look of the proportions of the 195/50 and 205/50R15. With that change, I’d like to go with more aggressive rubber, which definitely will mean regular changing by date. On the daily driven Volkswagen, age isn’t really an issue. It’s driven enough for the rubber to remain soft.

  12. ptschett Avatar

    The Dodges get driven enough that their tire replacements are due to wear rather than time. The ’05 Dakota’s on its 3rd if not 4th set of Firestone Destination A/T’s and the 2010 Challenger got two sets of tires in the ~4.5 years that I had it.
    I’ll have to see how it goes with the Thunderbird in its semi-retirement. Its tires are 4 years old I think? It runs on 215/70R15’s which are cheap if you can find them (stupid no-sidewall trend) and can live with the limited options (I miss Firehawk SS20 / Indy 500’s).
    On the KLR650 I had seasons where I used up to 2 fronts and 3 rears running 80/20 to 50/50 dual-sport knobby tires. Fronts lasted ~5000 miles and rears 2500-3500 depending on how much I was twisting the right handgrip.

  13. salguod Avatar

    When I bought my wheels & tires for the T’bird at Discount Tire, they tried to sell me their lifetime free replacement certificates. I declined, citing the low mileage the tires would see. He replied that’s why i should buy them, they aren’t allowed to service (balance, repair, etc) tires older than 6 years, I think. If I came in with good tread and old tires, the replacement certificates would get me a new set, free. I bought the certificates.
    It’s been 7-8 years and I intend to take it in this summer for a balance to see if they make good on it.

  14. Scoutdude Avatar

    Yes changing tires because of age is important. Fact is the second the tire leaves the mold the polymers that keep it soft start off gassing. When the tire gets hard the traction on wet pavement drops significantly. The internal bonds of the rubber also start to degrade due to the loss of the polymers. That can lead to tread separation as someone has already mentioned.
    The conditions that the tire is subject to can certainly affect the aging process. Outside in the sun and they will dry out faster than if they are kept in a cool area and not subject to the sun.
    Because tires age out and loose their traction we went through a fight with the idiot at Costco when I sent my Mother in law to get new tires for her PT Cruiser Convertible. The car is an 06 and when one of the belts finally let go in the OE Goodyear RS-A she finally agreed to replace them. She had suspected that she had a tire problem and took it to an independent tire store who told her they are fine they have lots of tread. She finally mentioned it to my wife who told me. A quick look revealed both front tires were no longer round.
    So I sent her to Costco for some tires. I told her to get the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3. The guy at Costco said she should not get those, the Defender was a few dollars cheaper per tire and their tread wear warranty was twice as long. She left telling they guy that my son in law said that she was supposed to get that tire and she wasn’t going to get something else. When I shared the results of the TireRack tests that showed that the Ultra High Performance Pilot would stop in a shorter distance, provide more cornering grip ect she agreed that the extra $4 per tire was well worth it. I also shared that the car came with ultra high performance A/S tires and moving to a standard A/S tire would be a significant down grade. She also agreed that the tires will age out before she could possibly use the 45K tread wear warranty let alone a 90K tread wear warranty. So I went with her when she went back. Thankfully there was someone different behind the counter and a fight did not ensue.

  15. Alff Avatar

    I have done so in the past but am not completely diligent about it. I don’t put many miles on any one vehicle, so they don’t generally wear out. I will replace tires when I see sidewall checking or any hint of tread separation.

  16. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

    The six 275/70/22.5 truck tires which are on the coach run about $2,500 a set. These have about 75K-80K on ’em, they aren’t more than 20% worn, if that.
    They’re going on about ten years old, but I keep them either indoors or covered, and look for sidewall cracking every time I put air in them, which is before every trip, and while road-tripping, about every third day.

    1. Preludacris Avatar

      i feel like truck tires might have a longer life than car tires. They start out less pliable and are generally tougher. Good call on keeping an eye on them.

      1. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

        Yeah, they’re definitely more sturdily constructed! That reminds me, though, everything should have dried out from the past six weeks of rain (Fort Worth, TX), so I need to go cover them…
        This said, I dread having to replace them, purely because of cost. Though, using this machine to travel is less-expensive and more enjoyable, for us, than flights/hotels.

  17. MattC Avatar

    I recently had a small pickup as a third vehicle. I maybe drove it 3000 miles a year. The no-name Chinese tires that the previous owner had on it started to look questionable (ample tread but sidewalls started to look wonky). I replaced them with halfway decent new major brand tires this last year for peace of mind.

  18. Scoutdude Avatar

    For a lot of you who have vehicles that do not see a lot of mileage I’d suggest looking at the local wrecking yard, used tire dealer and craigslist. There are deals to be had out there if you look for them, take along your $2 tire depth gauge and pay attention to the brand and UTOG ratings. Many of the used tire places have a one price deal so you can get a quality brand tire with good tread that will last as long, and give better traction for less than the cheapo new tires. You can also end up paying full retail for a worn bargain basement tire that way so you need to know what is what before you make the deal.

  19. ratpatrol66 Avatar

    I’m running the same tires that have been on since before 1998? A little weather checked, me no problems yet?

  20. NapoleonSolo Avatar

    Well, I’ve read through 34 comments and it’s not clear what the actual danger is. I’ve ready they get hard. I’ve read they are a little less grippy. Do they fail catastrophically at speed? Are there no government guidelines? No manufacturer recommendations?

    1. Preludacris Avatar

      All of the above. The rubber gets very hard and they are a LOT less grippy. I have been involved in several instances of bad tires causing problems. I rear-ended someone in light snow despite doing my best to drive safely – long following distance, low speed. That was the longest slow-mo sliding moment of my life. I got a flat tire on a borrowed Jeep, up a forest service road far out of cell service. In that case the sidewalls were actually bubbling, so it’s not like I should have expected anything different. I was riding shotgun in a friend’s Focus when it spun into the ditch due to unexpected oversteer. Again, old tires.
      I don’t need any guidelines or recommendations to tell me that old tires are not worth messing around with.

    2. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

      Like what Preludacris said, all of the above.
      I have a diesel 1-bedroom apartment (a 40′ long one). Tire age is a HUGE thing in the RV community, because many of these machines sit for months without moving.
      UV rays slowly break down the rubber in the sidewalls, causing crazing, then cracking, then small canyons. It’s quite common for 8-10 year old, or older, tires to fail at even relatively low speed because the sidewalls just disintegrate.

  21. NapoleonSolo Avatar

    The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and
    tire manufacturers are currently studying the many variables. Exposure
    to the elements (sun and atmospheric), regularity of use (frequent or
    only occasional) and the quality of care (maintaining proper inflation
    pressure, wheel alignment, etc.) will all influence the answer. So while
    tire life depends on the service conditions and the environment in
    which they operate, the difficult task remains how to identify all of
    the variables that influence a tire’s calendar age and attempt to
    quantify their influence.
    The current industry association recommendations regarding inspecting and
    replacing tires due to age originate outside the United States.
    The British Rubber Manufacturers Association (BRMA) recommended practice
    issued June, 2001, states “BRMA members strongly recommend that unused
    tyres should not be put into service if they are over six years old and
    that all tyres should be replaced ten years from the date of their
    “Environmental conditions like exposure to sunlight and coastal climates, as well as
    poor storage and infrequent use, accelerate the aging process. In ideal
    conditions, a tyre may have a life expectancy that exceeds ten years
    from its date of manufacture. However, such conditions are rare. Aging
    may not exhibit any external indications and, since there is no
    non-destructive test to assess the serviceability of a tyre, even an
    inspection carried out by a tyre expert may not reveal the extent of any
    More recently, The Japan Automobile Tire Manufacturers Association (JATMA)
    recommended practice issued May, 2005, states “customers are encouraged
    to have their vehicle tires promptly inspected after five years of use
    to determine if the tires can continue to be used (recommends spare
    tires be inspected as well). Furthermore, even when the tires look
    usable, it is recommended that all tires (including spare tires) that
    were made more than ten years ago be replaced with new tires.
    Additionally, because in some cases automobile makers–based on the
    characteristics of the relevant vehicle–stipulate in the owner’s manual
    the timing of tire inspection and replacement. Please read and confirm
    the content of the owner’s manual.”
    Several European vehicle manufacturers of high performance sports cars, coupes
    and sedans identify that “under no circumstances should tires older than
    6 years be used” in their vehicle owner’s manual. However, it should be
    noted that European recommendations must include driving conditions
    that include roads like the German Autobahn, which allows vehicles to be
    legally driven at their top speeds for extended periods of time.
    While American driving conditions don’t include the high-speed challenges of
    the German Autobahn, Chrysler, Ford Motor Company and General Motors
    have joined their European colleagues by recommending that tires
    installed as Original Equipment be replaced after six years of service.
    It is important to take into account Original Equipment tires are mounted
    on wheels and put into service right after being received by vehicle
    manufacturers, so their calendar age begins immediately. However the
    same cannot be said of tires properly stored in a tire manufacturers’
    warehouse or in Tire Rack distribution centers before they go into
    service. Properly stored tires that are protected from the elements and
    not mounted on a wheel age very slowly before they are mounted and put
    into service.
    Our experience has been that when properly stored and cared for, most street tires have
    a useful life in service of between six to ten years. And while part of
    that time is spent as the tire travels from the manufacturing plant to
    the manufacturer’s distribution center, to the retailer and to you, the
    remainder is the time it spends on your vehicle.

  22. Johnny ro Avatar
    Johnny ro

    New tires are a joy. I do not hold onto old ones.
    I even replace OEMs on a new car.
    I warned that buyer of my extra NB Miata 14″ rims that the aged Hakepelittas on the rims were scary unstable even with plenty of tread left. The car went into bad yaw oscillations on dry straight pavement because of them. I was charging only for the rims. He went away happy and I never heard from him again.

  23. Krautwursten Avatar

    Generally speaking you’ll hit the usage threshold (4mm profile by law in Germany) far earlier than the age threshold (10 years advisable), at least I always have. Tires however aren’t always sold immediately after production and can lie in storage for a number of years before going over the counter. It’s advisable to check that new tires you buy aren’t older than three years since production (there’s a DOT number on the sidewall, 2311 for example stands for the 23rd week of 2011).
    I am bound by law about trailer tires though, being younger than six years is one of the binding requirements if you want to tow at 100 kph / 62 mph, otherwise you’re limited to 80 kph / 50 mph.

  24. Sjalabais Avatar

    Anyone here with opinions about what primer and paint dust/spray do to tires, temporarily painting the rubber? What about cat pee? These are my garage issues…not sure if this stuff really degrades/affects rubber to a mentionworthy degree.

  25. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

    Good topic! Tires tend to be overlooked…along with brakes and front-end parts, y’know, the stuff nobody really cares about until it fails.
    If you’re now curious to see how old your tires are, it’s easy to figure out:
    Date codes are a huge deal for certain types of vehicles, primarily RVs and motorcycles, due to the (typical) low annual mileage racked up on them.
    This said, I’ve purchased three tires for a motorcycle at one time, went to the shop, gave ’em all three, and they asked where the other rear wheel was (the second one was a rear).
    This was on a Wednesday, they’d be ready Thursday afternoon. Perfect.
    I said, “oh, just keep that one over on the side, somewhere, I’ll need it on Monday.”
    They looked at me with a hairy eyeball, and sure enough, I was back in on Monday with a shot rear off my ’91 ST1100.
    Iron-Butt style riding does that to a rear tire, especially when you’re two-up and your wife/GF/pillion trusts you to the very limits of physics.