Tire Concerns: Tire age and safety

I own a 2000 Chev Silverado 1500 Z71 4×4 with 11302 original miles. Firestone 265 70 R 16 tires. Garaged since new. I have been told by Discount Tire, Big O, Les Swab, local independents that normal usage on this tire should NOT exceed 6 years. Tires show no sidewall cracking. What do I do??

Editorial Comment:
There has been a lot of TV news making a lot of noise about the dangers of “old” tires.

Some of what they’ve reported is correct, but I feel they haven’t given viewers all the story about things which can cause tire failure to help
make informed decisions.

If your tires have been stored away from heat and UV sources they may still be in very good condition. Also if your tires have been used with the proper pressure and not damaged they still may be able to be used for short trips, at modest speeds without any heavy loads.

If you plan to use these tires in any demanding situations, long trips, high speeds, heavy loads, difficult roads, you might want to consider getting newer ones, and keep these as spares to get you out of some pinch.

The six year life of tires is what manufactures set as the limit on how long they will guarantee their tires. Most products are usually made with a margin of safety built in so that when any standard is published, the product will be designed to exceed that limit by a factor of 1.5 or more.

This is not to say that I recommend that you ignore tire age … what I’m saying is that other factors, such as speed, inflation pressure, heat and other issues also have to be taken into account.

Tire Concerns: manufacturing date of off-road tires.

I have two backhoe tires and I would like to determine how old they are ?
the tie codes are as follows, 03 007 2 3373, and 06 u44 2 4678, They are Solideal tires.

Editorial Comment:
Only tires which are used on public highways are regulated with DOT codes which have a standard way of showing their manufacture date. The examples you’ve provided are not consistent with these but either a dealer who specializes in these kind of tires or the manufacturer may be able to help if you contact them.

Problem figuring out DOT code for age

I saw on the news recently the concern that a tire older than 5 years can be dangerous due to the deterioration of the rubber. It advised people to check the DOT code on their tires to confirm the age. Well I have Goodrich tires and they don’t have series of 12 digits after the DOT.
All it says is –

Could the date have been left off?

I am about to take a trip and this unnerves me a bit. What do you think?

Also, while I’m asking questions. Any suggestions for a tires on a Lincoln LS? I have to replace those and haven’t figured out which are best.

Editorial Comment:
TIRE GUY from Tire-Information-World.com

It would be better if we had a picture of your tire code, but from what you’ve reported I’m concerned about the missing part of the DOT code. If I were you I’d be visiting a BF Goodrich dealer as soon as possible to discover what is going on.

When I was being trained to adjust tire complaints, I was shown tires which had been falsified by some unscrupulous person and one of the clues to this was a missing DOT code.

I don’t know if this is what happened in your case but all tires sold in the USA must have a DOT code which includes the year of manufacture … if it’s missing I’d be wanting to know why, however, before you start crying foul, look on the other side of the tire. Some manufacturers put an incomplete Code on one side and the complete code (including the date) on the other because of the expense of having two adjustable molds for both sides.

Something else which occurs to me is the possibility that the tire you’ve mentioned is not a car tire. The coding motorcycle tires is different from automobiles but the one you reported still looks strange to me.

As for the age of the tire, just being over 5 years old doesn’t necessarily make a tire unsafe. It’s just that manufacturers have placed a limit on their products for warranty purposes and they won’t respond for any tires older than that. I think they reached that limit because most tires which are sold have been completely worn out before they reach 5 years of age.

Do tires get old?

I have a car which has tires with Low mileage, but are over 6 years old. Are these tires dangerously old, or are they still safe to use?

Editorial Comment:

John’s question is typical of many that are being asked recently, particularly after some national TV reports that allege that old tires are the cause of fatal accidents.

The answer is not simple, and without having actually seen John’s tires or the specific tires in the reports it is not possible to make a specific comment which will cover all cases, but here are some thoughts that may help you understand the situation.

First is the concept of tire’s aging.

To begin with, as a dealer for tires, we were always working with the understanding that the manufacturer would guarantee their tires against defects in materials or workmanship for 5 years from the date of manufacture which is stamped on the sidewall of the tire.

So, in the case of John’s tires, I’d first want to know if they were six years old from the date of manufacture, or was it six years since he bought them. In the first case, I’d be less concerned. In the latter case, I’d want to know what the manufacture date was.

You see, most companies who guarantee things tend to be very conservative and always allow for a margin of error. That means, to me, that if something is guaranteed for 5 years, there’s some safety margin of 25 to 50% built in to that guarantee. So that tire might be still completely serviceable with no risk for maybe as long as 7.5 years.

The next issue, in assessing this is what has happened to those tires over their lifetime.

Have they been subjected to heat and sunlight or have they been stored in cool-dry conditions? Heat and sunlight can hasten their deterioration.

Have they had any damages caused through punctures, through being driven with low pressures, through being rubbed or impacted with a curb, pot-hole, etc.? Any of these can speed up a tire’s demise.

Have they been subjected to exposure to ozone, petroleum based, or other chemicals? These are other causes of weakening a tire.

All of these factors can influence the life and servicability of even a relatively new tire, but they are things which most people never even think about or take into consideration when they examine theirs.

If there’s any doubt about these, possibly an experienced tire service person could examine a tire to determine if there are any visible signs of damage which would weaken a tire that would make it advisable to replace it.

The final consideration would be what kind of use and road conditions would the tire be subjected to if it were going to be used. There is a considerable difference in driving a car every day at freeway speeds in a harsh (hot) climate, and driving at 30 mph a couple of blocks to a corner store once or twice a week.

Tire Concerns: Tire age

How old may a “new” tire be and still considered safe?

Editorial Comment: With recent reports which have been shown on TV and published in other media this is a question which is asked more and more.

With many dramatic reports, issues sometimes get blown out of proportion and certain parts of the story don’t get told.

The exact age of a modern tire isn’t the only factor which determines whether or not it is safe to use, but that doesn’t mean that you can expect a tire in storage to be useful forever, either.

Most major tire manufacturers like Michelin, Goodyear, BFGoodrich etc, usually guarantee their tires for defects in material and workmanship for 5 or 6 years from the date of manufacture which is stamped on every tire at the end of the DOT code.

The date of manufacture is the last four digits in the code which shows something like 2204, where the 22 says it was made in the 22nd week of the year and the 04 means the year 2004. If, by chance you come across a tire with only three digits at the end like 195, this was made before the year 2000, and is too old to be considered for normal use.

Now, the fact that a tire is more or less than 5 years old is only part of the story. This limit isonly the time for which the factory will guarantee its tire.

The tire could be less than 5 years old and if it has been poorly stored it could be unusable.

Also if you use a relatively young tire and do not care for it properly you could have it fail on you in spite of its young age.

And if you happen to have tires that have just turned 5 or 6 on your vehicle it doesn’t mean that you have to run out right now to replace them.

What you do need to do is make sure that they have been proplerly used and cared for and to inspect them on a regular basis to make sure that there are no defects which are starting to develop.