Tires – the very mention of them can conjure up opinions, emotions, and spirited conversation. However, when you get right down to it, it’s usually not the tire that’s the subject matter, but some aspect of it’s warranty. Tires are among the most important replacement parts that we purchase for our vehicles. We expect them to last for years – or at least as long as their advertised life. But tires do wear out prematurely, or we get a flat. At some point, a tire will have to be repaired or replaced – and it’s at this point it’s good to know about tire warranties.
Most tire manufacturers have determined that the usable life of a tire is either six years from the date of purchase or when there’s just 2/32nds of an inch of tread left. While there’s no federal law regulating tire wear, the 2/32nds measurement has been adopted by most states, and Maine is no exception.
There are at least two indicators that a tire is nearing the end of its life. Tires sold in North America are required to have tread-wear indicators, which are found in the tire tread’s grooves. The wear indicators look like small bars of tread that run perpendicular to the groove. If the wear of the tire has reached these indicators, it’s time for a new tire.
Another measure is the old-school penny method. Put a penny in the groove of the tire, upside down and with Lincoln’s head facing you. The distance from the top of Lincoln’s head to the edge of the coin is about 2/32nds of an inch. So if the top of Lincoln’s head is showing, you’ll need to replace the tire. This is only a safety indicator, not a way to support any type of claim that a tire has worn out prematurely.
Every tire manufacturer offers tread-life warranties. The tread-life estimate is based on the type of tire and the number of miles that can be expected under normal driving conditions, For example, high-performance tires are softer and have a lower mileage estimate than the harder compound tires typically found on economy cars.
If a tire has worn out evenly across the tread well before its estimated mileage limit, it may qualify for replacement. You must show proof of purchase and proof that the tires were rotated properly at the recommended mileage points. Depending on where you purchased the tires from, proof of alignments at the required intervals may also be required. In this situation, the manufacturer or tire dealer prorates the cost of the new tire based on the percentage of remaining tread on the old tire and the price of the replacement tire.
For example, if you have a tire with an 80,000-mile warranty and you were only able to get 60,000 miles of life out of it, you haven’t reached the mileage threshold that you should have reached, – so you are owed 20,000 miles. This savings will be calculated towards your next set of tires.
Some notable exceptions to tread-life warranties are winter tires and split-size fitments. Just about all winter tires have no warranty due to the much softer compounds. Also, certain vehicles have different-size tires that cannot be rotated using the traditional method. Be sure to check with your tire dealer about tread life warranties (if any) with these unique tires before purchasing.