Understanding Tire Warranties

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Tire Warranty
What is the most important part of your car? It's not the motor, the transmission, or the cup holders. The most important parts on any vehicle are the tires. Without proper tires you can't go anywhere. Tires are also the most important safety feature on your car. Those few inches of rubber that hit the road keep you going in the right direction and keep you safe in dire circumstances. Having the proper tires on your vehicle is the single most important thing you can do in order to travel safely.
While we expect our tires to last for years, road debris can cause flats or even destroy a perfectly good tire. Sometimes a tire can have a flaw from the manufacturer that can cause tread or sidewall damage or premature wear. Well, rest easy my friend, because tires come with warranties that are very handy when you need to replace a defective tire. These warranties can often replace the tire or keep you from paying full price for a new one.

How Tire Warranties Work

These days, tire manufacturers offer consumers various types of warranties on tires such as a mileage or tread life warranty, limited road hazard warranty, uniformity warranty, as well as a workmanship and materials warranty. What's the difference and what do these warranties cover? Lithia has the answers.
Let's start with the tread life or mileage warranty. Depending on the manufacturer, these cover your tires for four to six years from the date you purchase them. It basically guarantees that the tire will last a certain number of road miles before you need to replace them. If your tires wear out sooner than the guaranteed mileage, the company may send you a pro-rated refund for the difference between the mileage you drove and the mileage that was promised.
Other than the years of service offered by a tire, the other way this warranty works is by measuring the tread life on the rubber. When there is just 2/32nds of an inch of tread left, your tire is at the end of its serviceable life and it is time to replace it. How do you know when your tires have reached this end of life milestone? Tires sold in North America have tread wear indicators built into the tread's grooves. These small bars of rubber run across the tread groove and when the tread wears down to the point that you see these bands, it is time for a new tire.

Then there's the penny test. You may have heard about this one. You insert a one cent penny into the tread of your tire with the top of Lincoln's head facing into the tread. If the top of Lincoln's head touches the tire, you've run out of useful tread. That's because on a penny, the distance between the top of Lincoln's head and the outer edge of the coin is, you guessed it, 2/32nd of an inch.
When it comes to tread life warranties, the tread life estimate of useful service is based on the type of tire and the number of miles that can generally be expected. For instance, the rubber formula for high-performance sports car tires are made to be softer and stickier, meaning they have a shorter lifespan than harder, general use tires found on the average sedan or SUV.
Some tire makers such as Continental and Dunlop include a limited road hazard warranty that covers the tires for the first year of service once purchased, or the first 2/32nds of tread wear life, whichever comes first. Under this warranty, your tires may be covered in the event of damage by potholes or other road hazards. In order to make a claim under this sort of warranty, the tire will have had to be damaged to the extent that it is not repairable.
Many tire stores offer "add on" road hazard warranties that cover you when you get a flat tire. The shop repairs the flat free of charge. These sorts of road hazard warranties are like purchasing life insurance and usually cost ten to twenty dollars per tire and are good for a year from date of purchase. Tire companies such as Les Schwab repair flats at no charge in the hopes that you'll think of them the next time you need to buy new tires.
Many tire manufacturers now offer road hazard coverage, or free flat repair and even free towing when you purchase tires. For instance, tire makers Continental, Michelin, and Nexen give you three years of flat tire changing assistance or free towing to a participating dealer if you don't have a spare tire.

Tire Disturbance

A workmanship and materials warranty covers the tires for any manufacturing defects or problems with the rubber compounds or materials used in making the tires. This sort of tire warranty is usually good for up to six years which is considered the life of the tire. In order to make a claim under this warranty, a tire has to have a condition that was not caused by a lack of tire maintenance. We're talking about such problems as a manufacturing defect in the rubber effecting the sidewall or tread that compromises the tire's safe performance. These sorts of defects include the loss of a block of tread or severe cracks in the sidewall. In such cases, the tire is replaced at no charge by the manufacturer.
Most tires also come with a uniformity warranty that covers ride disturbances such as excessive vibration. Imagine that you just bought a set of tires and as soon as you drive away you notice extreme vibration from one or more of the tires. Though rare, this is an indication that there may be a manufacturing defect in a tire. Such a uniformity problem is also covered under the tire's general warranty. But the uniformity warranty further protects the consumer for such defects that might occur later in the tread life of the tire. 

Don't Void Your Tire Warranty

No one wants to think about a vehicle warranty...until you need to file a claim. In the case of tire warranties, it's easy to keep your warranty ready to roll as long as you save the original receipt for your tire purchase and have proper maintenance performed on your vehicle along with the service records to back you up. As with any warranty, the manufacturer will want to be assured that your tires have been maintained and will want proof that the tires have been kept properly inflated, rotated and aligned.
For long tire life, keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure to ensure even wear. Under inflation or over inflation can void your tire warranty. It is best to check your tire pressure every month.
Have your tires rotated based on the manufacturer's recommendations or every 5,000 miles and keep a record of the service. It's also a good idea to keep an eye on how your tires are wearing. Check the tread for uneven wear and look for any bumps or unusual wear patterns.
Have your wheel alignment checked every time you have your tires rotated. Wheel misalignment can also void your tire warranty. Remember that all this can be handled easily at your local Lithia Auto dealer.
Tire Coverage
If your tires wear out well before their estimated mileage range, you may be able to use your tread-life warranty to get prorated savings on a new set of tires. In order to qualify, you have to show proof of purchase and service records that indicate the tires have been maintained by having them rotated at the manufacturer's recommended intervals. Another caveat is that if your tires are losing tread faster than they should, you still have to drive them down to the 2/32nd mark before turning them in under warranty.
Before purchasing new tires, check to see if they are covered under a mileage warranty. Some tires such as off-road, high-performance, or winter tires generally don't include mileage warranties.

Lithia Sells Tires
Need tires? Your local Lithia Auto dealer can get you back on the road with new shoes for your baby. Our tire experts can find the perfect tires for your ride with plenty of traction and a great tire warranty. We'll also keep your car serviced, keep your tires properly inflated, rotated, and your wheels aligned for the long haul. Find the closest Lithia Auto dealer to you right here.