The Truth About Worn Tires

Most drivers today base their tire purchase decisions on factors like cost and mileage warranty. If they do any research on performance, the majority of reviews and ratings available focus on how new tires perform. That's a problem.

We should have better information about worn tire performance before making a purchase.

  1. Wet Driving Performance & Cost
    Properly maintained, some worn tires could deliver better wet-driving performance than other new tires, which could save drivers money over time.
  2. Braking
    The brakes stop the wheels, but the tires stop the car. So shorter braking distances matter. Worn tires should deliver good wet-braking performance versus new tires.
  3. Tested &
    New tire performances can change dramatically as they wear. Worn tires should be tested. Drivers should have access to worn-tire test results before they buy new tires.
Brand A WORN Performance

All tires are NOT equal over time

Tire Performance Changes

As early as the first mile driven off the dealer's lot, tires begin to wear. How quickly a tire's stopping ability and other performance indicators change depends on driver behavior, road conditions, weather conditions, vehicle make and model, mileage, the type and quality of the tire and many other factors.

Michelin believes that consumers should be armed with the right information about how their tires will perform over time.

Currently, the industry standard is to test wet-braking performance of new tires; however, wet-braking can change drastically as tires wear over time. That means consumers make purchase decisions based on a specific factor that becomes less and less relevant the more they drive on the tires.

Michelin is taking steps to close this gap. Though drivers value different aspects of safety, braking distance (especially wet braking) is recognized worldwide as one of the best indicator of safety in the automotive and tire industry.

Results show that braking performances among new tires are not equal—and  a demonstration by Michelin revealed that worn tires can be even more unequal in their braking performances.

Tire Wear Comparison
Tires Wear Down.
Braking performance should not.
Tire design features can change drastically as the tire wears.
Stopping Distance Comparison
Brand A (New)
Braking distance: 87 ft.
Brand B (New)
Braking distance: 118 ft.
Brand A (Worn)
Braking distance: 107 ft.
Brand B (Worn)
Braking distance: 165 ft.
TEST ON: 2017 Toyota Camry, 215/55R17 94V, LPG A9 Wet, 5/11/2017.

If all new tires are not equal, worn tires are even harder to compare.

Michelin conducted internal tests1 that compared braking distances among specific tires in new and worn conditions to reveal how safety performance changes over time. The "worn" tires were buffed to the tread wear indicator, near the end of the tire's useful life (at 2/32-inch, as defined in many states).

The test results are dramatic. Some worn tires deliver wet-braking distances that are about the same or better than other new tires. In fact, there was a 78-foot difference in stopping distance, more than five car lengths, between the best and worst tire in the test.

1 All tires wear out and should eventually be replaced.  Based on internal wet braking test results from 50 MPH versus Pirelli®  CinturatoTM P7 All Season Plus, Continental®  Pure ContactTM All Season in 215/60R16 95V and  Goodyear®  Assurance® WeatherReadyTM All Weather in 215/60R16 95H tires machine buffed to 3/32” (which is above the 2/32” tread wear out limit in most states) on a 2017 Chevrolet Malibu. Actual on-road results may vary

Click to play video

Lack of Awareness Has Larger Impacts

Long-lasting performance—which Michelin defines as making tires designed to deliver industry-leading performances throughout the life of the tire—is a critical issue for consumers. Consumer lack of understanding of long-lasting performance is not just a safety issue. It can harm the environment and the wallet, too.

Research from EY2 shows that early removal of well-maintained tires from cars wastes about 400 million tires per year worldwide. It's costly, too—forcing the average driver to buy the equivalent of one additional new tire every two years. In fact, removing tires prematurely costs drivers more than $25 billion globally, accounting for increased fuel consumption and unnecessary tire purchases.

2 EY Report- Planned obsolescence is not inevitable June 201, an Ernst & Young report commissioned by Michelin.

Wasted Tires
400 million wasted tires/year go to landfill EY Report – Planned obsolescence is not inevitable, May 2017, an Ernst & Young report commissioned by Michelin
Dollars Wasted
25 billion dollars wasted EY Report - Planned obsolescence is not inevitable, May 2017, an Ernst & Young report commissioned by Michelin
Cost Every Two Years
$250 cost for drivers every two years Assumes that well-maintained tires last roughly 60,000 miles with 8/32nds of usable tread depth. If replaced at 2/32 instead of 4/32, each tire would yield 20,000 miles more.
Increase in Tire Cost
40% increase in tire cost for same number of miles traveled EY Report - Planned obsolescence is not inevitable, May 2017, an Ernst & Young report commissioned by Michelin

What do we need to do next?

The need to educate consumers about long-lasting performance as a factor in both tire purchase and maintenance is an important concept for the industry. As a company that thinks long-term about sustainable mobility, Michelin is starting a discussion about performance standards for worn tires, working with dealers and other industry stakeholders. Consumers should have access to this critical information and Michelin is working to raise consumer awareness and understanding of this important safety, performance and environmental issue.

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