How Long Do Winter Tires Last? — A Comprehensive Guide

When you frequently drive on Canadian roads, it’s essential to have a set of quality winter tires. But just how long do winter tires last?

If you’re curious to know how to tell when it’s time to replace your current set or what you can do to get the most mileage out of your new set, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve done the research and learned some tricks of the trade to keep you cruising safely down the road.

How Long Do Winter Tires Last — Key Factors

We all know that even the top-notch winter tires have an expiration date. However, you may not be aware of what can affect a tire’s lifespan. There are numerous factors, so we’ll examine the most crucial ones in the section below.

Alignment & Rotation

Wheel alignment and regular tire rotation are a couple of factors that can affect the life of winter tires but are often overlooked. According to tire specialists and auto manufacturers, you should have your wheels aligned once a year to achieve road stability and normal tire wear.

Furthermore, in order to get the most out of your winter tire’s life expectancy, it’s recommended that you rotate your winter tires regularly —approximately every 10,000 to 12,000 kilometres.

Surface Types

The longevity also depends on the types of wintry roads upon which you typically drive. For instance, the tread will wear out much faster in icy road conditions than in snow.

Moreover, due to the softer rubber of winter tires, it’s crucial to change them when the temperature warms up to a steady seven degrees celsius to avoid extensive wear and tear.

Air Pressure

Another factor that can negatively affect your winter tires’ duration is that the air molecules inside will shrink in cold weather. Consequently, your tire pressure will decrease as the temperature drops.

Therefore, it’s critical to check your tire pressure during the early winter months to maintain the proper levels and avoid irregular tread wear.

Tread Depth

One of the first things you should do when switching to your winter tires is inspect the tread. If the tread depth is less than four millimetres, it’s most probably time for a new set.

Nowadays, most brands have built-in wear indicators that make checking your winter tire tread life efficient and straightforward.

How Long Do Winter Tires Last in Canada

How long your winter tires last is determined by their initial quality, how frequently you travel, and the typical road conditions upon which you do so. A couple of other things to factor into the equation are how timely you switch them and how well you store them.

Depending on the brand, if you travel an average of 20,000 to 25,000 kilometres per year, like most Canadians, your tires should last at least four to five seasons. However, as stated above, this will also depend on how much you drive and the conditions of the roads.

Signs of Tire Wear

Even the priciest high-quality brands will eventually wear out. But how can you know when they’re close to their winter tire expiration date? Fortunately, some telltale signs can alert you to when you need to replace them.

Air Leaks

A steady air leak in your tire causing a reduction of one PSI in a week could suggest a small repairable puncture. But if there’s an abrupt or overnight decline in PSI, this usually spells trouble! And you should perform a further, more thorough inspection.

Tread Depth

It’s crucial to keep an eye out for excessive tread wear. As we previously mentioned, most new winter tires have built-in wear indicators that make the check-up convenient. However, you can also check your winter tire tread life’s condition using a toonie or a gauge.

Your Car Vibrates When Driving

Several factors can be at play if you’re noticing odd road vibrations. One of your wheels or tires could very well be the culprit. However, no matter the root of the problem, it will eventually affect your winter tires’ durability if left unrepaired.


If you don’t know how old your tires are, look for the manufacture date on the sidewall. The final four digits of the group of identifying numbers are the tire’s manufacturing date. The first two numbers represent the tire’s production week, while the last two indicate the year.

It’s important to know the age of your tires as the average life of winter tires is around four to five years.

Sidewall Damage

The tire’s sidewall is more likely to be damaged than the rubber-meets-the-road tread because it’s composed of softer rubber. This type of tire damage, on the other hand, is usually easy to spot.

As you already know, tire durability can be affected by numerous factors, so keep an eye out for the following.

Blisters or Bulges

If you notice any bulging or blisters on your sidewalls, definitely consult a tire professional, as this likely means that they need to be replaced. Plus, this substantially increases the possibility of a sudden blowout, as well as damage to your suspension.


Minor scratches are to be expected. However, cracks, cuts, or deep scrapes can lead to leaks or even a rupture, causing the winter tire to reach its expiration date prematurely.


If the internal sidewall cords (usually made from nylon mesh) become exposed, it’s time to replace the tire.

How to Increase the Longevity of Winter Tires

As we’ve already touched upon in the above sections of this guide, you’re well aware that quite a few factors come into play regarding the lifespan of winter tires. However, car owners can take some basic steps to help their tires last longer.

  • Maintain proper tire pressure
  • Avoid direct sunlight as much as possible (in storage or in use)
  • Rotate and align regularly
  • Make sure to clean thoroughly before storing your tires
  • Promptly change your tires for the corresponding seasons

Final Thoughts

The life expectancy of winter tires depends on the brand’s quality, how often you drive, and the conditions of the roads you usually travel. However, if you correctly swap your winter tires with their summer counterparts, you can expect them to last at least four to five seasons.

We hope that the information provided in this guide has given you the proper insight to know how long winter tires should last, what to watch out for, and how to get the most mileage out of your current set.

Please drive safely!


How long do winter tires last in storage?

Sadly, even unused tires won’t last forever. Whether they’re being driven on or stored away, they will still deteriorate over time. However, if stored vertically in a climate-controlled room, they can last from six to ten years.

What is the durability of winter tires year-round?

Since winter tires have a specialized tread and are made of a softer rubber than all-season or summer tires, it’s not recommended that you drive on them all year. If you choose to do so, they will certainly wear out faster than they would otherwise.

In the end, the cost of replacing your winter tires will exceed the advantages of keeping them on for a few more months.

How many winters are winter tires good for?

A set of winter tires should last at least four or five seasons. Although if you’ve purchased a high-quality brand, such as Nokian, and care for them as we’ve suggested, they can last even longer.

What is the longevity of winter tires in summer?

Winter tires contain soft tread compounds specifically designed for winter use. Therefore, they will generate excessive amounts of heat in hot summer conditions. This will increase the tire’s overall thermal load and cause them to wear out much faster.

How long do new winter tires last?

Most tire manufacturers estimate that a set of winter tires will last at least four seasons. However, how many years your winter tires can last depends on the number of kilometres you drive each month, the road conditions you’re travelling on, and the level of care you provide.

Hopefully, you’re now ready to tackle the most challenging Canadian roads safely. But if you still have some questions, we recommend scrolling back through our “How Long Do Winter Tires Last?” guide.

Damjana Cikaric

After teaching for 8 years, Damjana found a new challenge — writing. With her academic background in the English language, doing research and writing is always fun and enjoyable. In her spare time, she loves binge-watching TV shows, especially crime documentaries, or spending time with her dogs.

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