Tire Facts

Tires are designed and built to provide many thousands of miles of excellent service and must be maintained properly to achieve their best potential.

Tire Service Life

Service and storage conditions vary widely, so accurately predicting the actual serviceable life of any specific tire based on simple calendar age alone is not possible. Proper maintenance and periodic inspections by a tire professional to assess your tires’ condition are essential for optimum performance and service life.


Do I need to worry about the age of my tires?

In most cases, no.  Most people drive enough miles every year that their tires will need to be replaced before age becomes an issue.  But there are a couple of important cases we want you to know about where age can be more a factor than mileage.

  • Full-sized spare tires.  Some vehicles come equipped with full-sized spare tires that are identical to the tires installed on the vehicle.
  • Ultra-low mileage vehicles.  Some vehicles are not driven regularly, like classic cars, sports cars and other seasonal vehicles, and vehicles that are used only for local, occasional driving.

In these vehicles, the tire’s age is more important, since tread wear will not tell you when it’s time for new tires.  In these cases, we recommend that you follow your tire manufacturer’s tire service life guidelines.

Please keep in mind that a tire or vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation is not a guarantee or indication of the minimum serviceable life for your tire.


How can I tell when my tire was made?

Each tire sold in the United States has a special set of letters and numbers, called the Tire Identification Number (sometimes called the tire’s TIN) on its sidewall.  The TIN starts with the letters “DOT.”  The last four numbers indicate the week and year when your tire was manufactured – the first two of these numbers stand of the week of manufacture (01 through 52 or 53), and the last two stand for what year your tire was made for any tire made in 2000 or later.


What other factors affect my tires' performance?

Your tires are highly engineered for safety, performance and endurance, constructed from various materials, including rubber. Each of the components has performance properties that are essential to the proper functioning of the tire, and how those properties evolve depends on a combination of time, storage conditions and conditions of use – such as inflation pressure, load, speed, temperature, impacts and road hazard injury. Probably the single most important factor is how the tire is maintained once it’s installed on a vehicle.


How do I take care of my tires? What maintenance should I do myself?

You play a key role in the regular care and maintenance of your tires.  USTMA recommends that you inspect regularly all tires installed on your vehicles, including spares.  During monthly maintenance inspections, focus on proper inflation pressure, tread wear and tire damage.  This inspection is important even if your vehicle has a tire pressure monitoring system. Check out our USTMA tire care tips. 


When should I seek the help of a tire professional?

If you find a tire condition that concerns you during your monthly inspection, please seek the advice of a tire professional immediately, using your temporary spare or other emergency service if necessary to ensure your safety.  Supplement your own monthly inspections with periodic, regular professional tire care.  This includes tire inspection, tire rotation, wheel balancing and vehicle alignment services. Please ask your tire professional to regularly assess the condition of your tires to determine if there are any tactile or visual signs of damage that make replacement necessary.


Can I tell if my tire has a problem while I am driving?

When you’re driving, you should be aware not only of your tires’ visual condition but also of any change in dynamic performance, such as increased air loss, noise or vibration.  Noticeable changes like that could be an indication of an internal condition that could cause a tire to fail. In these cases, USTMA recommends consumers immediately consult a tire service professional to inspect the tire and determine if it needs to be removed for replacement or safe repair.


How should I store my tire if it is not installed on my vehicle?

Always store your tires (whether mounted on a rim or not) in a clean, dry, cool, well-ventilated place to prevent damage to due to heat, sunlight or chemicals.  Don’t store tires in exposed outdoor areas or areas that are dirty, wet, poorly ventilated, or subject to extremely hot or cold temperatures or direct sunlight. The compounds in tires can also be damaged by exposure to petroleum-based products (such as gasoline or oil), or other volatile or corrosive solvents/substances, and shouldn’t be kept in the same area as electric motors, battery chargers, generators, welding equipment, or other ozone-generating sources.

Back To Top