How Long Do Winter Tires Last?

If you want to substantially increase the traction and safety of your vehicle for wintertime travel, there’s just no substitute for winter tires. Across the globe in wintry locales, winter tires are mandatory (required by law). However, despite the clear and convincing science of the safety advantages, the U.S. has implemented no such winter tire traction requirements.

If you’ve landed here, then it’s likely you’re already convinced of the merits of winter tires, and you probably want that decisive wintertime driving edge for you and your loved ones. The fact that the majority of cars on U.S. roads are not equipped with safe winter tires might even add to your motivation. Nevertheless, incurring the expense and actually acquiring a set of winter tires is an uphill type of move for most. Sort of like going to the gym on a Sunday morning – you know that you should, but, eh.

The good news is that unlike the gym on Sunday (that recurring sense of guilt), a purchase of winter tires doesn’t need to be revisited very often. Advances in the winter tire tread life and mileage warranties mean that once you’ve taken the plunge, you should be set for many winter seasons.

The specialized tire technology and safety provided by winter tires have never been more affordable, convenient, and practical. Here’s the scoop on winter tire tread life:

According to the latest (2018) statistics from the United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, Americans drive an average of 13,476 miles per year.

While it depends on the severity of the specific winter climate and location, winter tires are traditionally fitted around mid-November and swapped out by about mid-March. In other words, winter tires are commonly used for between four to five months of the year. Assuming consistent year-round travel patterns, most Americans would drive about 4,492 miles every year on winter tires if used for four months.

So let’s take that mileage figure and plug it into a real-world winter tire use scenario.

Michelin’s excellent X-Ice Xi3 is a (stud-less ice and snow) winter tire that can be fitted to everything from minivans to performance cars. When new, the X-Ice Xi3 is equipped with 10.5/32-inch of tread depth and warrantied up to 6 years and 40,000 miles. Assuming the same tire size at all four corners of the vehicle. If the vehicle tire setup is staggered (different sized tires front and rear) the mileage warranty is halved.

While a mileage warranty shouldn’t be interpreted necessarily as a “guarantee” of tread life, it’s a very useful reference point. Tread life warranties offered by Michelin or any other reputable tire manufacture are rooted in tire design and substantial data. The mileage warranty number is, therefore, a reasonable projection of tire life. Learn about tire warranties and how they work.

With a 40,000-mile tire tread life projection and a use rate of 4,492 miles per winter season, the X-Ice Xi3 could theoretically last for nearly nine winter seasons.

It’s important to note that actual mileage will vary according to numerous factors, including vehicle type and weight, driving style, road conditions, how punctual you are with swapping out winter tires in the spring (warm temperatures will accelerate wear) and how you store your tires.

For the sake of argument, let’s say you’ll put a few more miles than average on your winter tires, or suffer from lead foot syndrome. In your case, winter tires might last somewhere between four to six winter seasons. Considering the performance and safety gains, revisiting a purchase of winter tires so often is a very minor inconvenience. To put the tire lifespan into context, they’ll probably outlast the smartphone you could use to set a winter tire purchase reminder.

So how long are winter tires supposed to last? Any way you slice it, a pretty darn long time. Purchasing winter tires is not an ongoing inconvenience and considered on an annual basis, the cost of winter tires is low to boot.

Winter tires really have never been more affordable, convenient, and practical. Check out our full selection of winter tires or give us a call if we can help out with your winter tire questions and needs at 866-961-8668.

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