Tire warranties provide consumers protection against premature wear, material defects, and even road hazards. A tire warranty is provided by the tire manufacturer and is a way consumers can avoid paying full price for a replacement tire. Some warranties are standard with the tire; others can be purchased as added insurance.
With several different types of tire warranties, the question ‘How do tire warranties work?’ is a good and practical one. After all, a vehicle’s tires protect the driver and passengers. They impact gas mileage, affect braking, make a ride smooth, and play a major role in a vehicle’s performance.
They are also consumable and will need to be replaced over the life of a vehicle. Consumers should want and expect to get the best life for their investment in a new set of tires. Tire warranties can help do exactly that.
To decide if the standard tire warranty is enough, or an extra one should be purchased, let’s take a look at the different types of tire warranties and the tires they do and don’t cover.
Types of Tire Warranties
There are five main types of tire warranties:
1. Treadwear Warranty. This tire warranty is also known as a mileage warranty and is standard with most tires (see section below for exceptions). These tire warranties cover tires for a certain number of years and miles. For example, a tire might come with 5 years or 60,000 miles.
A consumer can collect on this warranty if 1) all four tires purchased wear down to a depth of 2/32”, and 2) this happens before the period of the warranty expires or the mileage is exceeded. For this warranty, manufacturers typically prorate the remaining mileage owed to the consumer (percentage of time/mileage remaining x the amount paid for the tire). The tire owner can then apply this amount to the purchase of new tires.
Consumers should be aware that a depth of 2/32” in tire treads is regarded as legally worn and not safe to drive on. As a matter of safety, most people replace tires before they reach this depth. This can make it difficult to collect on the warranty. It can be done, but requires the consumer keep documentation and put safety first.
If tires seem to be wearing fast and will reach the 2/32” prior to the end of years or mileage, a conversation with the manufacturer or a tire retailer may be warranted.
2. Limited Road Hazard Warranty. This warranty covers you for damage due to road hazards like potholes and nail punctures. Some manufacturers offer this type of warranty for the first year of a tire’s life. This type of tire warranty is most often offered by tire stores and varies from one company to another.
3. Uniformity Warranty. Few consumers would ever collect on this warranty. This one is provided by a manufacturer with periods ranging from 30 days to 1 year. It’s standard in that it covers a problem of excessive vibration or ride disturbance due to a tire. If this rare problem exists, experts say it would be immediately obvious to a consumer.
4. Materials Warranty. This is another standard warranty provided by manufacturers. It may also be called a workmanship warranty. This warranty protects a consumer from defects in the materials used or that might occur during the manufacturing process.
A tire warranty like this may run for the life of the tire or for specific period of time, typically 5 to 6 years, depending on the manufacturer. A consumer should check their documentation to confirm the exact timeframe. To make a claim on this warranty, the tires would have to show an issue not related to use or maintenance.
Manufacturers often pay claims in full when a problem like this occurs within the first 2/32” of use. After that the amount is prorated to the purchase of a new set of tires.
5. Trial Period Warranty. Occasionally manufacturers give consumers a short, 30- to 45-day promotional period to try out a set of tires. Tires returned often get a refund or credit for new tires from the same manufacturer. Tire companies that have offered these trial period warranties include Bridgestone, Michelin, and Yokohama. You can always ask your tire retailer or dealership if any manufacturers have an active offer, if this tire warranty interests you.
Tires Typically Covered by a Tire Warranty
Most standard, daily use vehicle tires come with tire warranties. The question for the consumer is often, is it important to have a long mileage warranty, or are you buying tires for a specific use or purpose? For example, tires sold with long mileage warranties often are made of harder, less flexible materials to extend tire life. These tires may not provide ideal traction in wet or winter weather.
Winter tires, however, often don’t come with mileage warranties. They’re made with more flexible, softer tread compounds for better traction on snowy, icy roads. They aren’t made to drive in warm weather and don’t last as long as all-weather tires. Michelin is one exception; it does offer mileage warranty on its snow tires.