Do Tires Have a break in period?
So you've endured worn tires for a few thousand miles, and you've finally splurged for a new set. You're ready to experience the wonderment of new tires... but it turns out immediate impressions aren't entirely favorable.
While certain immediate benefits can be experienced after mounting new tires, it is in fact true that tires require a break in period before they achieve their optimum performance level.
During the first few hundred miles users may perceive mediocre grip characteristics in both dry and wet conditions, as well as some squirming under cornering and a general sense of disconnectedness from behind the wheel. This is for a few reasons --
1. The replaced and presumably worn tire lacked tread depth, and while there are numerous performance disadvantages associated with this tire condition, a minimum tread (hey...) tire can actually be more responsive than a new tire.
2. Tires are coated with a lubricant to facilitate certain aspects of the manufacturing process. It might not seem like your new tires are coated with Vaseline, but remnants of that lubrication/residue remain, and that's not conducive to maximum traction on the road. So your tires won't achieve optimum grip until this lubricant has completely worn off.
3. From an external perspective tires appear pretty structurally basic, right? Well actually they're quite a bit more onion-like than you might imagine, and include layers of rubber, steel, and fabric. It takes some miles before all of the structural components fully meld and integrate with one another. Maximum tire performance won't be possible until this process is complete.
So how long before you get to the good stuff then?
General rule of thumb is about 500 miles, give or take a couple hundred miles.
During the break in period it's advisable with most tires to take it relatively easy. No further action or advanced break in techniques required. Just be a bit patient, wait for them to fully come in, and enjoy your tires for years to come.