Are Your New Tires – Really New

Archived in the category: Articles, News
Posted by: Captain Woody - Comments Off on Are Your New Tires – Really New

Article By: Capt. Woody Gore

Check the tires on your car or trailer, do they look good, have plenty of tread, no bald spots or wear and tear? If that’s the case; you’ve probably got a great set of tires with years of life?  However, those tires could actually be ready to break apart at any moment.crash-tire-separation1

Although they might look new never take them at face value.  We all shop price when making a purchase especially for new tires; we want the best deal and often rely solely on price.  Unfortunately, we live in a “buyers beware” world, so, always be wary of “great tire deals,” because they actually have a “use-by date.”  Most people don’t know this because it’s not advertised and there’s no law protecting us.  And worse still, the consequences of driving on old tires can be deadly.  This is not just about getting the best tires for your money…it’s about getting the best safe tires.

European and Asian tire manufacturers elect to warn of the dangers associated with driving on ‘new’ tires that are actually six years old, or even older.  For example; the Volkswagen manual states “WARNING” old tires can fail causing loss of vehicle control and personal injury.  Replace tires after 6 years, regardless of tread wear.

Tires are a billion dollar business and it’s hardly surprising that here in the good old United States we’re literally kept in the dark; because no company wants to destroy tires and see profits decline.  If they look new, and smell new, they are new…wrong!

So, how old is old?  In 2008, the ABC news show 20/20 ran a special report on the dangers of old tires.  The show used undercover reporters to purchase “new” tires from various retailers and tire stores.  Some shocking facts came out about so called “new tires,” on sale at well-known reputable outlets.  Many tires were actually up to 12 years old, so it makes you wander what stores without the big name and reputation might sell us.  Although they are often  represented as new may have sat in a warehouse or retailers rack for many years.dangerous-tires-warehouse1

The report revealed that old tires are “ticking time bombs.”  As rubber ages, it dries out; which leads to increased stress on the infrastructure resulting in tread separation, blowout and loss of control.  When that happens, a tire can literally disintegrate while driving.  The 20/20 report said some experts are now recommending an expiration dates of only 6 years from the date of manufacture.

Most failures result in serious property damage.  However, for the more serious crashes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates about 400 fatalities annually are attributable directly to tire failure. Despite all the evidence, the NHTSA has failed to impose a shelf life on tires.  All they’ve done is issue a warning to check your tires.

Why?  Because the tire industry is a billion dollar market and no manufacturer wants to destroy tires and watch profits decline.  Tire manufacturers and retailers are not ready to junk thousands of tires every month; that could easily be sold as new?

How Do We Protect Ourselves: As average consumers, how can we tell old tires from new ones?  We take for granted when buying tires; they’re new not old unsold tires sitting on a retail outlet rack or in a warehouse for years.

Determining the age of a tire is as easy as reading its Tire Identification Number often referred to as the tire’s serial number. Tire Identification Numbers is actually a batch code the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires. The  identification number has the letter DOT, followed by ten, eleven or twelve letters and/or numbers that identify the manufacturing location, tire size and manufacturer’s code, along with the week and year the tire was manufactured.

However, with dwindling profit margins, many times we’re kept in the dark about things that endanger our lives. To the uninformed consumer it’s just a meaningless series of numbers on the side of the tire. However, now an informed consumer you knows the manufacturing date stamps are important and where they are located. All we have to do is look on either of the sidewalls and find the last 4 numbers at the end of the DOT serial number.dangerous-tires-11

Reading the code: In the illustration the manufacturer DOT number is; DOT U2LL L*LR 5107. The first 2 numbers at the end (51) are the week of manufacture and the last 2 numbers are the year (07) of manufacture.  For example: 5107 means the tire was completed the 51st week of 2007, or mid December of that year.  If the last group of digits has only 3 numbers the tire was made before 2000.  For example: “219″ means the tire was made the 21st week of 1999. Before you buy that next set of tires, be in informed buyer.  Tell the retailer you want to know when the tire was manufactured and be certain to check the last 4 digits of the DOT serial number yourself.

Make certain to keep your sales receipt.  Most manufacturers warranty their tires for four years from the date of purchase or five years from the week it was manufactured.  So, if you purchased new tires manufactured exactly two years ago, they will be covered for a total of six years, four years from the date of purchase, as long as you have your receipt.  If you lose your receipt, in this example, the warranty coverage will end five years from the week of manufacture, resulting in the tire manufacturer’s warranty coverage, ending only three years from the date of purchase.

Whether you’re shopping for new tires, riding on new tires, or have tires that are several years’ old, check the actual age as soon as possible.  Now we know where to look and how to interpret the manufacturing code we can determine if the store we’re buying from is forthcoming about tire age, warranty and longevity.

Capheadshot-cutout-this-one2tain Woody Gore is an outdoor writer, photojournalist, and speaker.  He also guides fishing charters in the Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Bradenton, and Sarasota areas. Fishing these areas for over fifty years he offers memorable fishing adventures.  To contact Capt Woody please visit his website at WWW.CAPTAINWOODYGORE.COM or give him a call at 813-477-3814