Winter tires are widely used in areas that experience cold and snowy winters to achieve better traction on the roads and avoid accidents.
So if you’re looking to purchase a set of winter tires for your vehicle, you may be wondering – how long do winter tires last? Here is everything I’ve found out about this!
How Long Do Winter Tires Last?
Winter tires will last for 4 to 5 seasons if driven through 4 months of winter every year on average. Most manufacturers do not provide a mileage warranty for winter tires and recommend changing tires when the tread depth reaches 4/32 inches, or after 6 years of usage.
If you want to learn more about when snow tires should be replaced, if 10-year-old snow tires are safe, and much more, keep on reading!
How Long Do Winter Tires Last On Average?
Most tire manufacturers do not provide treadwear warranties or estimated lifespans for winter tires because of the varying conditions in which they are used.
In general, if you drive around 12,000-15,000 miles (20,000-25,000 kilometers) every year and have four months of winter, your winter tires should last for four to five years/seasons.
If you live in a place that has shorter winters, or you don’t have to drive your vehicle too much, your tires may even last for longer than that.
Here are some notable winter tire models that are known to provide the best traction and last for a long time:
- Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
- Michelin X-Ice Xi3 (lasts for 40,000 miles/64,000 kilometers)
- Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3
- Firestone Winterforce 2
- Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT
When Should Snow Tires Be Replaced?
Winter tires, also commonly known as snow tires, should be replaced when the tread depth reaches 4/32 inches in winter.
If you continue using your tires after the tread reaches this level, it is considered a safety hazard since the tires lose traction and handling in the snow after that point.
Additionally, tire manufacturers also recommend that customers do not use the same set of winter tires for more than 5 to 6 years.
This is to avoid unforeseen accidents from taking place due to a tire that suddenly gives way and breaks down because of internal weaknesses.
If you are not sure how old your tires are, you should check the DOT information on them to determine when they were manufactured.
How Can You Tell If Your Winter Tires Are Worn Out?
To tell if your winter tires are worn out, you should check the tread depth using the quarter test.
This involves putting a quarter in the tire grooves at various spots, with George Washington’s head pointing upside down.
If you are able to see Washington’s hair, this means that your tires only have 4/32 inches of tread left.
Although you can still drive with a tread depth of 4/32 inches in the summer, you should not take the risk of carrying on with these tires in the winter and should get them replaced.
Can You Use Winter Tires In The Summer?
Winter tires can be used in the summer, but doing so can drastically reduce their lifespan.
This is because winter tires are made with a softer rubber compound that has high elasticity and provides a good grip in snowy conditions.
In warm and dry weather, the higher temperatures will cause the softer rubber of the tires to wear away a lot faster than the rubber of all-season tires.
Because of this, you should swap out your winter tires and replace them with all-season or performance tires when the winter season is over.
As a general rule, if the temperature crosses 45 degrees F (7 degrees C), you should replace your winter tires with all-season tires.
Are 10 Year Old Snow Tires Safe?
Over time, the rubber in winter tires undergoes degradation, even if they aren’t being used very frequently.
Because of this, there is a very high chance that your 10-year-old snow tires are no longer safe for you to use in the winter.
Even though it may seem that they have adequate tread from the outside, the tire will have weakened significantly and may even break down if you try to drive it through the snow.
Keep in mind that winter tires are generally meant to last for 5 to 6 years, after which they should be replaced.
How Can You Make Your Winter Tires Last Longer?
If you take good care of your winter tires, you will have no problems getting good traction out of them for more than 5 to 6 years.
Here are the steps you should follow to best care for your winter tires:
- Clean your tires before storing them: Cleaning up the tires will help reduce the buildup that can cause harm to the tires if it has been left out for too long.
- Wrap your tires up: Use four large garbage bags and wrap the tires, removing all air. This will stop the lubricating oils inside the tires from evaporating.
- Stand them straight up: Position your winter tires in an upright position instead of stacking them over each other, unless the tires are on rims.
- Hang up your tires: In case there is no space, hang the tire up on large hooks. However, tires that don’t have rims should not be hanged.
- Keep them out of the sun: Too much sunlight will end up degrading the rubber in your tires, so make sure to keep them locked up away from sunlight.
To find out more information about tires, you can also see our posts on how long do all-season tires last, what are tire socks, and which tires do you put chains on.
Most tire manufacturers suggest that winter tires can last for about five to six seasons on average, after which they should be replaced.
Additionally, you should replace your winter tires if they have about 4/32 inches of tread left. You can measure this easily using the quarter test.
Note that you should avoid using winter tires in the summer since they will end up wearing out a lot faster.