How do tire warranties work?

We expect a lot from our tires. We expect them to support the weight of our vehicle and the passengers inside, to handle our daily driving demands in various weather conditions, and to last for years after our purchase. But sometimes tires don’t last as long as we expect them to, or become damaged beyond repair, and we’re left wondering what happened and what we can do about it. In some cases, the tire manufacturer’s warranty may provide some relief.

Tire manufacturers offer a few different types of warranties on their tires – mileage, road hazard, etc. Here’s an explanation of each warranty type:

Mileage warranty (also known as tread life warranty)

Generally, these warranties cover tires for four, five, or six years from the date of purchase, depending on the manufacturer. This type of warranty essentially guarantees that you’ll get a certain number of miles of use out of your tires before they wear out. If your tires wear out before you reach that number, the manufacturer may give you a pro-rated refund for the difference between the miles promised and the miles delivered.

To be eligible for a claim under this type of warranty, the tires must have worn evenly and must be down to the final 2/32nds of tread. In order to have your claim approved, you’ll have to show service records proving the tires were rotated regularly, according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Some tires (off-road tires, ultra-high performance tires, and winter tires, for example) generally don’t have mileage warranties. Keep reading for a list of tires with long mileage warranties.

Limited road hazard warranty

Some manufacturers offer a limited road hazard warranty that typically covers the tires for the first year after purchase, or the first 2/32nds of tread life, whichever comes first. This kind of warranty may cover you if your tire is damaged by a pothole or other road hazard. To be eligible for a claim, the tire cannot be repairable.

Workmanship and materials warranty

This warranty covers the tires for five to six years from the date of purchase, and protects you from issues or defects that stem from the manufacturing process or materials used to make the tire. To be eligible for a claim, a tire has to have an unusual condition that wasn’t caused by a mechanical vehicle issue or lack of maintenance.

Uniformity warranty

This warranty covers a tire for an excessive vibration or ride disturbance within the first year of the purchase – a very rare occurrence. This type of condition would be noticeable as soon as the tire is installed and driven on. Due to the rarity of this issue, most manufacturers only approve one or two tires out of a set for a warranty claim. Two or more tires require an authorization code from the manufacturer before a claim can be submitted.

Trial periods (test drive, ride and try, etc.)

Some manufacturers allow you to try out a set of tires to see how you like them. The trial period is usually 30 to 45 days, depending on the manufacturer. If you’re not happy with your tires and would like a different set, you can return them. Most manufacturers require you to exchange the tires for a new set from their product lineup to qualify.

Which tire manufacturers offer the best tire warranties?

Before we get into this subject, let’s just say that as with many things in life, there are often trade-offs involved with tire mileage warranties. For example, if you want a long mileage warranty, you may sacrifice some traction in bad weather. That’s because long-lasting tire tread compounds are harder and less flexible, so they may not grip the road in the same way that a tire with a softer tread compound (and a lower mileage warranty) might.

So when you’re shopping for tires, the question may be less “Who has the best tire warranty?” and more “Who offers the best balance of tire warranty and tire performance”?

Winter tires are a great example: They’re built with softer tread compounds that stay flexible and grippy even in very cold weather – but that also means they may not last as long as all-season tires. This is why you shouldn’t drive on winter tires all year round, and it’s also why most winter tires don’t have mileage warranties (Michelin winter tires are a notable exception to this rule).

So when you’re shopping for tires, the question may be less “Who has the best tire warranty?” and more “Who offers the best balance of tire warranty and tire performance”? But if you’re still interested in long warranties, here are some standouts.

As we mentioned earlier, every one of Michelin’s winter tires comes with a mileage warranty (25,000 miles to 40,000 miles, depending on which tire you choose). If having a mileage warranty for your winter tires is important to you, Michelin is a great choice.

Michelin also offers one of the longest tire mileage warranties in the business on its Defender T+H tire – 80,000 miles.

Here are some other tires with long mileage warranties:

(Please note that these are just a few of the tires we sell with long mileage warranties.)

But is a long tire mileage warranty really worth it?

According to Consumer Reports, no. In their article titled “Why Tread-Life Warranties are Next to Useless,” they argue that it’s basically impossible to navigate through all the restrictions and conditions of tire warranties, and that very few consumers are actually able to collect. We don’t know if we’d go quite that far, but it’s certainly true that you need to keep up with your tire maintenance (pressure checks, rotation, alignment) if you want to be able to make a mileage warranty claim.

Consumer Reports also points out that in order to collect on a mileage warranty claim, you have to drive on the tires until they’re truly worn out – down to 2/32 of an inch of remaining tread. It can be dangerous to drive on tires with so little tread, so Consumer Reports recommends that you shop for new tires when you have 4/32nds of an inch of tread left (this is also our recommendation). Not sure how much tread is left on your tires? Check out our article on How to measure your tread depth.

How TireBuyer can help you navigate a tire mileage warranty claim

When you buy tires from TireBuyer, we can assist you in the warranty process if you ever need to file a claim. Because our parent company, American Tire Distributors, is the largest tire distributor in North America, we have longstanding relationships with tire manufacturers and may be able to expedite the claim process. Or, we may be able to offer you a comparable discount on a new set of tires – just give us a call.

How do I keep my tire mileage warranty in good standing?

  • Keep your original receipt from your tire purchase. You’ll need it if you want to file a claim.
  • Have your tires rotated regularly, according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. For example, Michelin recommends that tires be rotated every 6,000 - 8,000 miles, or at the first sign of irregular wear.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated at all times. Under-inflation or over-inflation can void the tire warranty. We recommend checking your tire inflation pressure once a month.
  • Wheel misalignment can also void the tire warranty. Have your alignment checked regularly.

Tires with road hazard warranties

Some tire manufacturers are now offering road hazard coverage, or free flat repair/towing, when you purchase their tires. This can be a very helpful and valuable benefit if you don’t already have a roadside assistance plan like AAA. Here are a few tire brands that provide this type of coverage:

Three years flat tire changing assistance (or towing if no spare is available), plus road hazard coverage that provides a comparable replacement if a tire is damaged beyond repair in the first 12 months.

Select tires include road hazard coverage that provides replacement if a tire is damaged beyond repair in the first 12 months.

Three years flat tire changing assistance (or towing if no spare is available).

Three years flat tire changing assistance (or towing if no spare is available), plus road hazard coverage that provides replacement if a tire is damaged beyond repair in the first two years.

Want help with tire warranties or tire shopping?

Our tire experts can help you find the perfect balance – the reliable traction you need, and a great tire warranty, too. Give them a call at (866) 961-8668.

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