Drivers who don’t use their cars a lot often ask this question, and it’s a fair one. Car tyres are worn down by constant use, bad roads, potholes and curbs. However, they’re also worn down by the sun, the air and poor maintenance – none of which entail driving the car much.
Yes, drivers who use their cars more will most likely need to replace their car tyres more frequently. But those who don’t drive much can still expect to replace their tyres every seven years – and the same goes for owners of caravans and trailers. Here’s why.
Car tyre rubber has a use by date
It’s fair enough to think that if you don’t use your car or your caravan or your boat trailer much that the tyres will last longer. But the reality is that rubber doesn’t need to be used to degrade. Over time, rubber naturally hardens. When this happens, it loses its grip and can even separate from the carcass of the tyre.
On the outside, everything will appear normal, in tip-top shape. Good tread depth, no worn patches. But by five years, the rubber is beginning to lose its suppleness and, with it, its ability to grip the road. This degradation also leads to a weakening of the bonds between the rubber and the steel bolts that hold it together.
Sunlight also degrades the rubber over time. If your car spends its life outdoors, exposed to the sky, and hardly ever moves, the same patches of rubber will be exposed to UV radiation and heat day after day. Sections of your tyres will become compromised, though it won’t appear so to the naked eye.
This is why it’s so important to know the age of your tyres. Speak of which…
How to know the age of your car tyres
If you can’t remember the last time you had your tyres changed, don’t worry: one, you’re not alone, and two, you can find the age on the sidewall of the tyre.
That series of numbers and letters stamped on the sidewall contains a lot of information. But for our purposes, it’s only the last four digits we’re interested in. These represent the week and the year in which the tyre was manufactured. For instance, 1901 would indicate that the tyre was made in the 19th week of the year 2001, 5017 would indicate that the tyre was made in the 50th week of the year 2017, and so on.
Obviously, it’s a different system for tyres made before 2000, but that’s not our concern because you aren’t driving on tyres that are over 20 years old, are you?
Once your car tyres hit the 7 year mark, get them checked
Tyres aren’t cheap, and all drivers want to make sure they get as much out of them as possible. But it’s very important we don’t take this ambition too far and find ourselves driving on rubber not fit for purpose. Using your car less than most drivers may prolong the life of your tyres, but not indefinitely. Once that hits seven years of age, you need to drop into Eastern Tyre Centre and have them looked over. They may appear fine to the naked eye, but our trained eyes will pick up on issues with the rubber and the carcass.
If we detect signs of degradation, we’ll help you pick you out another set best suited to your habits and your budget.