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What car tires last the longest?

How Long Does a Tire Last?

There is no way to tell exactly how long a tire will last but it’s important for consumers to note that tires do, in fact, have a lifespan. That lifespan depends on a combination of factors including a driver’s habits, tire design, climate, road conditions, and service of the tire.

The tire industry has long recognized the consumer’s role in the regular care and maintenance of their tires. The point at which a tire is replaced is a decision for which the owner of the tire is responsible. A tire service professional at your local Continental dealer should be consulted with any questions about tire service life. The following recommendations are made to aid in assessing the point of maximum service life.

What damages tires?
There are many factors that contribute to wear and tear of a tire. Aside from age, road conditions like potholes, speed bumps, curbs, and debris in the road are primary contributors. Also driving habits including, but not limited to, speeding, quick starts, ignoring changes in handling, and emergency braking. While not obvious, climate does have an effect on tires. When exposed to extreme temperature (hot or cold), direct sunlight, rain, snow and ice, as well as various chemicals like oil and grease, this can wreak havoc on your tires and you may not even know it.

Another consideration is improper use of tires. Using a spare tire as a permanent replacement,mixing tire types, using summer tires in winter and vice versa, using tires on damaged wheels, and fitting tires that do not have the speed capability and load index at least equal to or higher than those specified by the vehicle manufacturer, can all lead to damaged tires.

How can I take care of my tire(s) to extend their life?
Tires are designed and built to provide thousands of miles of excellent service. For maximum benefit, tires must be maintained properly to avoid tire damage and abuse that may result in tire disablement. The service life of a tire is a cumulative function of the storage, rotation and service conditions, which a tire is subjected to throughout its life (load, speed, inflations pressure, road hazard injury, etc.). Since service conditions vary widely, accurately predicting the service life of any specific tire in chronological time is not possible.

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You can increase the longevity of your tire through proper maintenance. When thinking about tire maintenance you should be:

  1. Checking tire pressure regularly
  2. Rotating tires
  3. Maintaining proper alignment
  4. Checking tread wear (2/32 of an inch or lower is too low)
  5. Inspecting tires for visible wear or damage
  6. Paying attention to how your tires “feel” while driving

When should I remove my tire(s) from service?
Tires should be removed from service for numerous reasons, including tread worn down to minimum depth, damage or abuse (punctures, cuts, impacts, cracks, bulges, under inflation, overloading, etc.). For these reasons tires, including spares, must be inspected routinely, (i.e., at least once per month). Regular inspection becomes particularly important the longer a tire is kept in service. If tire damage is suspected or found, Continental recommends that the consumer have the tire inspected by a tire service professional. Consumers should use this consultation to determine if the tires can continue in service. It is recommended that spare tires be inspected at the same time. This routine inspection should occur whether or not the vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

Consumers are strongly encouraged to be aware of the tires’ visual condition. Also, they should be alert for any change in dynamic performance such as increased air loss, noise or vibration. Such changes could be an indicator that one or more of the tires should be immediately removed from service to prevent a tire disablement. Also, the consumer should be the first to recognize a severe in-service impact to a tire and to ensure that the tire is inspected immediately thereafter. Tire storage and rotation are also important to the service life of the tire.

How many years will my tire(s) last?
Continental is unaware of any technical data that supports a specific tire age for removal from service. However, as with other members of the tire and automotive industries, Continental recommends that all tires (including spare tires) that were manufactured more than ten (10) years previous be removed from service and be replaced with new tires, even when tires appear to be usable from their external appearance. Even if the tread depth may not have reached the minimum wear-out depth. Vehicle manufacturers may recommend a different chronological age at which a tire should be replaced based on their understanding of the specific vehicle application; Continental recommends that any such instruction be followed. Consumers should note that most tires would have to be removed for tread wear-out or other causes before any proscribed removal period. A stated removal period in no way reduces the consumer’s responsibility to replace tires as needed.

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How Long Do Tires Last if Not Used?

If not used, tires last for 6-10 years, depending on the storage and environmental conditions. Overall, the time limits for stored tires are much the same as for tires that are being used. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and official manufacturers suggest a tire is only 100% safe to use until it turns 5-6 years old. However, some admit that a tire can be operable up to 10 years if you check it for issues annually after the 5 th year.

What Can Make Tires Last Less: Factors Tire Aging Depends On

The time that stored tires last is influenced by two groups of factors:

  • Environmental conditions
  • Storage conditions.

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Environmental Conditions

This group includes oxygen, ultraviolet (UV) light, ozone, and heat damage.


Oxygen is the main element responsible for rubber deterioration, as it breaks rubber down from both outside and inside. Most tires are inflated with compressed air, which is 21% oxygen. So, unlike UV and ozone damage, the process of oxidation is twice as fast.

Special antioxidant compounds are used in rubber, but they only slow the aging process down. If the polymer structure gets altered by oxygen in any way, it results in rubber deterioration.

Rubber oxidation and tire aging

UV Light

When tires are exposed to sunlight, the rubber immediately starts absorbing UV radiation. The process is the same with both natural and synthetic polymers, which make up rubber compounds. The process of deterioration, due to the impact of UV, is called photo degradation.

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Tire manufacturers try to fight this with the help of carbon black. It’s a finish that is put on a tire and absorbs sunlight, transforming it into heat. However, any shield loses its ability to stabilize UV radiation after some time. So, the rubber is eventually exposed to the destructive rays, and the tires last for less time.


In brief, ozone is a type of oxygen with an extra atom in it, which can be found in the stratosphere and troposphere. The type of ozone that is destructive to rubber is usually a result of manmade pollution. The impact of the gas on tires was first noticed in the 1950s, with rubber deteriorating faster in large cities than in small towns.

Cracks on a tire caused by ozone impact.

Tire manufacturers try to fight ozone damage by putting special compounds in the products they produce. These waxes and oils can help if the tire is being used, meaning that the compounds are brought closer to the surface. However, as there’s no circulation when tires are simply stored, the compounds become useless and tires don’t last as long.

It’s important to remember that cracks from ozone impact are irreparable.


Heat, combined with oxygen, accelerates rubber aging with the process of thermo-oxidative degradation. According to NHTSA research data, tires last less time in hotter climates, and consequentially, they fail quicker, no matter whether they are ridden or stored.

Storage Conditions

This group includes temperature and light, ozone exposure, humidity, and deformation.

Temperature and Light

It’s recommended to store tires in a cool place, preferably not warmer than 77 F and not colder than 32 F. The storage should also hide the tire from direct sunlight or strong artificial light, as both usually emit UV.

Ozone Exposure

Tires have to be stored in a place without ozone-producing equipment, which includes electric motors, fluorescent lamps, generators, etc. Anything that can make electric discharges has to be taken away from the room. Excess exposure to ozone can cause cracking when any pressure is applied.

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There should be no water bodies or any other source of humidity near or within the storage room. If exposed to excessive humidity, tires last for less time – they become covered with condensation, which is highly undesirable. Liquids are also potential sources of ozone, which is destructible for rubber.


Tires should not be stored mounted or inflated, but vertically on a slightly elevated surface. Such a position will put the least amount of pressure on the tire. If it’s impossible to store them vertically as there is too many and not enough room, make sure the pile isn’t higher than 6 feet. In such a case, there’s no extreme pressure put on the sidewalls of the bottom tire. Deformed tires will not regain their form when pressurized – on the contrary, they may break.

How to Store Tires to Make Them Last Longer

There are certain things you can do to improve storing conditions and make your tires last longer:

Tires totes

  • Clean them before storing.
    If the tires were already mounted, clean them with a brush and wash with water and soap, drying afterwards. This will help you keep undesirable contaminants and excess humidity out of the tire’s surface. Also, don’t apply any tire dressings after the cleaning, as all needed compounds are already in the rubber.
  • Don’t store them mounted on a loaded vehicle.
    If you intend to store a vehicle, make sure to take the tires off it. The pressure from the load will stretch and deform the rubber, making your tires age quicker.
  • Put tires in airtight plastic bags.After they are clean and dry, put each tire in an airtight plastic bag – this will keep the oils from evaporating. You have to make sure you take as much air out as possible and close the bag tightly.
  • Use tire totes.
    For more convenience in storing and carrying, use tire totes, but remember that they aren’t airtight. A good way to counteract this is to put the tires in bags first, and then use tire totes.
  • Keep UV, humidity, and ozone away.
    Store tires in a cool dry place without potential sources of ozone or strong, direct light. This will keep the main environmental hazards away. The best way to make tires last longer is to put them into a climate-controlled room.
  • Store them white-to-white, black-to-black.
    If you stack many tires together, put white parts against the white, so not to stain them. The rubber used for the side with white parts and the black side may have different compounds. And as the oil from the tire’s black side can migrate to the white parts, it’s better to stack color to color.
  • Don’t hang them unless mounted.
    If you store your tires mounted on wheels, you can hang them without any doubts. However, if the tire isn’t mounted, you should never hang it for a long time, as it will deform. Also, if the tires are mounted and you don’t want to hang them, it’s better to store them stacked.
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Why Tires Age Even If They’re Not Used?

A tires service time expires because of the rubber aging, as the material is always exposed to oxygen that makes the particles become harder and less flexible. As a result, the rubber starts to crack outside and inside, which may cause tread or steel cord separation and complete tire failure.

Furthermore, stored tires last for a limited amount of time as they aren’t lubricated. When you ride a tire, the heated oils within it circulate and grease the rubber, preventing premature drying. When it’s in storage, the oils and emollients dry out, causing known consequences. Since even long-lasting rubber eventually ages, it’s recommended to not use a 10+ year old tire. To learn more about how often you should buy new tires, read this post.

It’s very important to determine the age of the tire you store by reading the date code on its sidewall. Remember, the age is counted from the year of manufacture, not the date you purchased it. If you buy a tire that was stored in a shop for 5 years, you may be wasting your money.

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