What is a Tire Heat Cycle?

tire heat cycle

Did you know that your tires go through a heat cycle every time you drive on them? And race teams sometimes use heat cycles to their advantage before and during a race. but what exactly is a tire heat cycle?

In this blog post, we will discuss what a heat cycle is and how it affects your tires. We will also provide some tips for maintaining your tires throughout their lifespan!

What is a Tire Heat Cycle?

A tire heat cycle is the period of time it takes a tire to go from its ambient resting temperature to full temperature and then back to its ambient resting temperature.

When you drive your vehicle, your tires rotate and friction is created between the tire and the road. This friction generates heat, which causes the temperature of the tire to rise. Once you stop driving the tire will begin to cool down and return to its ambient resting temperature. This completes the tire heat cycle.

How do tire heat cycles affect your tires?

Tire heat cycles can have both positive and negative effects on your tires.

On the positive side, tire heat cycles help improve the grip of your tires. This is because as the tire temperature rises, the rubber compound in the tire becomes more pliable and can conform to the road surface better. This improved grip can be beneficial when driving in difficult conditions such as wet or icy roads.

On the negative side, tire heat cycles can cause tires to wear out faster. This is because the friction generated during the heat cycle can soften the tire and allow the tire material to degrade over time.

Tires also have an expiry date of around 6 years. This is because the rubber compound of tires hardens over time and this is partially as a result of a tire going through heat cycles.

How do race teams take advantage of tire heat cycles?

Race teams sometimes use heat cycles as a way to heat and cure their tires before a race.

This is because heating tires before a race chemically alters the rubber compound of the tire. This makes the tire harder which reduces the tires peak grip but makes the tire more durable and allows the tire to be driven on for longer. This can offer a tactical advantage if the tire is still able to perform without slipping and skidding during the race.

Different types of tire will have different operating temperatures. This temperature varies depending on the type of driving that is being done.

For example, a tire that is being used for racing is designed to work at higher temperatures and will reach these higher temperatures during a race due to the high levels of friction and force that is exerted on the tire.

This allows a tire to have extremely high levels of grip, however the trade off is a very short lifespan that sometimes means the tire wears out and need to be changed during the race.

This tactic of heat cycling a tire before a race is questioned however as evidenced by the fact that only a small number of teams can be seen trying this technique. There is evidence however to show that a tire that is heat cycled before a race shows less graining and more consistent and stable performance during the race.

Tips for maintaining your tires

There are a few things you can do to help extend the life of your tires and ensure they remain in good condition.

One of the most important things you can do is to ensure your tires are inflated to the correct pressure. This will help to prevent your tires from generating an excess amount of friction when your tires are in use and will also help to improve fuel economy.

You can check your tire pressure anywhere with a tire pressure gauge like this. You can also check and inflate your tire anywhere with a portable tire pump or you can also do this at most gas stations.

It is also important to check your tires tread depth every 6 months or so. This will allow you to catch any uneven tread wear and rotate your tires before your tires become too worn to repair.

The easiest way to check your tread depth is to use a tread depth gauge such as this.

To help minimize the negative effects of tire heat cycles, it is important to properly maintain your tires. This includes regularly checking the air pressure and tread depth, avoiding excessive speed and not allowing your tires to spin or performing tire burnouts.

Another tip is to make sure to have the appropriate tires on your vehicle for the weather conditions. For example, if you know you will be driving in snow or ice, it is best to have winter tires installed on your vehicle.

By following these tips, you can help extend the lifespan of your tires!


Tire heat cycles happen every time you drive your vehicle as your tires warm up and cool down. Now you know what tire heat cycles are and how they they affect the lifespan and the behaviour of your tires. You also know how to properly maintain your tires by inspecting them and ensuring they are in good condition.

We hope you enjoyed this article and found it informative. If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or get in touch via email or through social media and we will read and respond to every comment, email or question. Thanks for reading!

How long does it take a tire to heat up?

It takes a tire about 15 minutes to heat up to its operating temperature. This may take longer in cold and wintery conditions or quicker in warm summer conditions.

How long after driving are tires cold?

This answer will vary greatly on the outside temperature and conditions. However tires are considered cold after your vehicle has been parked up for 3 hours or more.

How can I tell if my tires are overworked?

If your tires are overworked, you may notice that they start to develop cracks or bald spots. This is an indication that the tires are no longer able to properly grip the road and may need to be replaced.

Can you visually spot a heat cycled tire?

A tire that has been through many heat cycles will begin to show some signs of feathering and graining on the outside shoulder of the tire.