When do you need to replace your tires? We would expect at least 50,000 miles from the tires that come with any new vehicle, but tire life depends on many factors. Here are some broad guidelines.
Among the factors are the quality of the tire, the treadwear rating, whether it is a performance summer tire or an all-season tire, the type of vehicle it is mounted on and how it is driven. Performance tires may grip like leeches on dry pavement, but they tend to wear out faster than tires with less rolling resistance. If you drive your vehicle like you just stole it that also will wear tires faster. The Tires and Wheels articles in the Service & Repair section will help you sort out the different types of tires and which is best for your driving style.
Driving for extended periods on underinflated tires shortens their lifespan, as will driving a vehicle whose wheels are out of alignment. If you never or seldom have your tires rotated, that also can accelerate wear, especially the tires mounted in front on a front-wheel-drive vehicle. They not only carry most of the vehicle's weight but also carry most of the load in braking, cornering and jackrabbit starts.
Though we would expect at least 50,000 miles from original-equipment (and quality replacement) tires, the reality can be quite different. Owners of late-model Honda CR-Vs have complained to us, for example, that they had to replace all four tires around 20,000 miles. We also hear complaints from people who bought replacement tires that were supposed to last 50,000 miles or more but were good for only 30,000 miles. In other words, there are no promises.
Some additional guidelines: You don't have to spend lavishly on tires, but don't automatically buy the cheapest ones either. Tires are the only part of your vehicle that are supposed to touch the ground, so make sure they're up to the task. Choose tires that have high treadwear and traction ratings, and bear in mind that performance tires with higher speed ratings may not last long. A balanced combination of wet traction, ride comfort, low noise levels and a high treadwear rating will probably be your best bet.