Any truck is only as capable as its tires. These rubber pizza cutters impact every variable of a vehicle’s performance: speed, acceleration, handling, fuel economy, even payload and towing. A set of tires can literally make or break your driving experience. But it’s all too easy to forget about tires – and that they don’t last forever. Yet finding a good answer to how long truck tires last is frustratingly difficult.
A lot of that has to do with the nature of tires, which are easily affected by a multitude of variables, from weather to driving habits. Depending on how favorable these variables are, the potential life expectancy of a tire could range from as little 25,000 or so miles to maybe as high as 75,000 miles.
This doesn’t make it any easier when trying to project the life of your tires. As you try to get the most mileage out of your tires, keep in mind all the following:
How Many Miles Will a Truck Tire Last?
This subject is constantly up for debate because there’s no good answer. Some drivers will only get 25,000 or 30,000 miles out of a truck tire; others will make it well past 50,000 miles and may even hit 75,000 miles. But how far you go on a set of tires comes down to a litany of factors.
Perhaps the most important is driving habits. How do you drive? Spirited? Relaxed? Fast? Slow? In the city or on the highway? Your habits have a direct impact on your tire wear. Drivers who frequent the highway will incur greater internal temperatures on the tire but will avoid constant steering, braking, or accelerating. The net effect reduces tread wear and should promise more mileage out of the tire than someone doing spirited driving along mountain roads.
The type of tire you buy also affects tire wear. Truck tires are built specifically for trucks and SUVs, so they are designed to withstand the weight of the vehicle as well as any additional strain from a payload or a trailer. But try to run car tires on a truck and you’ll get much less life out of a tire, as it will be overtaxed and apt to blow out.
And of course, don’t discount the brand of tire. Tires look similar but aren’t all the same; different brands and types of tires use different rubber compounds, different formulas, and different levels of quality and construction. Odds are that a name-brand and higher-priced tire will last longer – and also be more comfortable, quieter, and better-wearing than a no-name budget option. This isn’t to say all cheap tires are bad – but do know that the old adage of getting what you pay for is especially true with tires.
Factors Affecting Tire Wear
Tires are champs at taking abuse – even in the worst of weather and the longest of road trips, tires can be relied on to smoothly, quietly, and faithfully take you to your destination. Yet they aren’t invincible. With every mile driven, a tire becomes that much more worn down. You’ll eventually notice some of this wear with a visible inspection; some of the wear you might hear or feel from the driver’s seat. Some wear you won’t notice at all – at least, not until a blowout takes you by surprise.
It’s inevitable that all tires wear down, but certain factors affect tire wear more than others. Here are the most common and significant contributors to tire wear on trucks:
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Rubber is sensitive to abrupt changes in temperature, and you’ll find that in the winter and summer tires are likely to sharply gain or lose air pressure, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). You can’t avoid or mitigate the weather, but regularly checking your tire pressure is a great way to counter any ill effects brought about by your local climate.
For those in the Snowbelt, those first cold days typically come suddenly. When the temperature quickly plummets, tires often lose quite a bit of PSI – depending on the severity of the temperature swing, you could lose 4 or even 5 PSI. This is because tire pressure falls about 1 PSI for every 10-degree drop in temperature.
The summer brings the opposite problem.2 Extreme heat results in tire pressure increasing. Driving on overinflated tires reduces grip and traction because there is less of a contact patch relative to a properly inflated tire. The ride becomes stiffer and the tread will wear unevenly. In summer, check your tire pressure regularly – and especially before heading out on your summer road trip. Long rides at high speeds on the hot interstate bring an increased risk of a blowout if the tire pressure isn’t correct or the tires are old.
If you don’t maintain correct tire pressure, your tires will not last as long as they otherwise might. Driving on the wrong tire pressure can cause a host of issues, from an uncomfortable ride to a catastrophic blowout.
We touched on the importance of tire pressure above, but it’s important enough to call out on its own. Trucks are designed to run a certain tire pressure when unloaded and another when hauling or towing serious weight. We don’t recommend towing 10,000 pounds of a trailer at 30 PSI – and we also don’t suggest driving unladen at 50 PSI. Each manufacturer puts a sticker in the door jamb informing drivers about the proper PSI for different circumstances, so use that to guide how much pressure to maintain and when.
If your car has TPMS (short for tire pressure monitoring system), sensors within the wheels will alert you via a warning light if your tire pressure falls below a certain threshold.3 However, we also recommend using a manual tire pressure gauge to confirm the accuracy of the sensors – it isn’t uncommon for sensors to be incorrect or finicky. If you don’t have TPMS, be sure to regularly check your PSI with a manual gauge. We’d recommend checking at least monthly.
If your truck tires are underinflated, there’s more rolling resistance, which can generate excessive heat within the tire and lead to a blowout. Too much tire pressure results in a rough ride, squirrely handling, and uneven treadwear.4
The best bet? Keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure. This prevents undue wear and is far safer than over- or under-inflated tires.
Age and Dry Rot
Time does to tires what it does to all of us: wears us down. As the miles pile up and the years go by, the tires will age. Even if the truck stays parked in the garage for years, the tires will still age. In fact, not driving your truck at all will probably cause just as much wear as putting on thousands of miles. Simply put, old tires are dangerous.5
This is because rubber is slowly, continuously deteriorating. Weather and conditions will rot a tire from the inside out, a condition known as dry rot. It’s invisible to the eye but begins occurring on all tires of a certain age. It’s why experts suggest buying new tires every six to eight years, depending on your driving habits, local climate, and appetite for risk. If a dry-rotted tire fails and blows out, it will do so suddenly and without warning.
Neglecting Alignments and Rotations
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Driving on the tire will over time wear out the tread, which is the easily visible indication of how much a life a tire has in it. If the tires are properly aligned and positioned, the tire wear will be largely even on all four tires. If improperly aligned, you’ll find one or more of the tires will wear down unevenly and prematurely. Go too long without an alignment and you’ll find yourself replacing a pair or even all four tires well before they should have been replaced.
Rotating tires is also critical. Front tires wear more than the rears for a variety of reasons, including the extra stress from being steered and the weight of the engine being directly overhead. If you don’t rotate your tires, the fronts will wear far faster than the fronts, necessitating early replacement.
There are a few recommended rotation patterns for trucks, though, so don’t overlook that importance.
Tires don’t last forever. Age, wear, mileage, and climate all impact how many years and miles you can get out of a set of tires before they become too dangerous to drive on.
We recommend replacing your tires at least every six years, sooner if you notice the tread has been reduced to the wear bars or if there is significantly uneven tire wear occurring. Old tires are dangerous tires, and spending a few hundred dollars on a new set is better than suffering from a blowout. Keep this in mind and you likely won’t find yourself fixing a flat on the side of the highway.
Motor Sports Village uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
- Muller, David. How Long Should a New Set of Tires Last? Caranddriver.com. Published 4 Sept 2017. Accessed 24 Sept 2021.
- Tips To Keep Tires Cool During Summer. Consumer Reports News. Published 7 Aug 2018. Accessed 24 Sept 2021.
- Yu S, Tang J, Cao, C. Wireless Communication Based Tire Pressure Monitoring System. 2007 International Conference on Wireless Communications, Networking and Mobile Computing, 2007, pp. 2511-2514, doi: 10.1109/WICOM.2007.625.
- Driving On Overinflated Tires – Is It Dangerous? Tirereviewsandmore.com. Published 22 Aug 2017. Accessed 24 Sept 2021.
- Montoya, Robert. How Old — and Dangerous — Are Your Tires? edmunds.com. Published 24 Oct 2018. Accessed 24 Sept 2021.