Did you know that car and truck tires may become dangerous to use after aging only six years? Are you driving on tires that may need replacement?
Most of us have probably owned cars, trucks or trailers with older tires and we thought nothing of it. According to this ABC 20/20 episode we found, tires begin to dry out and deteriorate shortly after manufacturing. After six years they are no longer considered to be safe. That is not six years of use. It is six years from the date the tires were manufactured.
To compound the issue, some tires can sit in inventories for several years and then are sold as new tires, even though in some cases more than six years has elapsed since they were manufactured. That theoretically makes the tires dangerous to use, especially when used on interstate highways or in harsh climates. Furthermore, tires will deteriorate faster when vehicles are left outside and tires are exposed to the sun for long periods. Six years is considered to the the useful “safe” life for a tire.
Since 2000, the DOT (US Department of Transportation) has required tire manufacturers to use a standardized date code on all tires. Although the code is now a standard, it appears to be intentionally cryptic and therefore unnoticed by most purchasers of tires.
To read the manufacturing date on a tire, look on the outer sidewall of the tire for a string of codes following the Department of Transportation designation “DOT”. There will be codes identifying the manufacturing location and tire size, plus other numbers. The important numbers are always the last four digits in the string of letters and numbers. The numbers indicate the week and the year of manufacturing. In our example above, the code 1811 identifies the date of manufacture as the 18th week of 2011.
Tires manufactured prior to 2000 may have a similar code stamped on the inner sidewall of the tire, or they may contain a code that is more cryptic that that used today. Any time you purchase tires, check the manufacturing date and make sure that the tires were recently manufactured. Anything manufactured within one or two years of the current date is probably not an issue, but any tire manufactured three or four or more years ago should be refused. Watch the ABC video. Your life may depend upon it.