Old Tires: Is Your Family Driving Around on a Ticking Time Bomb?

Although a tire may have plenty of tread, it’s important to check the tire’s age to make sure it is safe. Compounds within the tire itself deteriorate over time, and undetectable cracks inside the tire can cause the steel belts in the tread to separate. Tread separation can cause a sudden blowout and loss of vehicle control.

Having a tire blow out while you’re driving can cause an accident that results in serious injuries or death – especially if it happens while driving at highway speeds or in heavy traffic.

Old Tires Being Sold as “New”

Think you’re safe because you have “new” tires? Think again. The tire industry came under fire several years ago after an ABC investigation uncovered that some tire retailers were selling old tires as new. Some of the tires had been sitting in storage for a decade or more. While consumers thought they were getting new tires at a good price, they were actually putting themselves and others at risk of serious injury or death.

Our firm dealt with this firsthand when we were contacted by the family of a young man who was killed in crash caused by a bad tire. The “new” tire that was installed on the vehicle was actually dangerously old and deteriorating. The same day the tire was installed, it detreaded causing a deadly rollover accident.

So, has the industry cleaned up their act? A follow-up investigation by ABC and their affiliates showed their operatives were still easily able to purchase dangerously old or recalled tires.

To avoid dangerous crashes caused by tread separation, auto experts advise drivers to replace tires that are more than six years old, regardless of tread depth. But how can you tell the age of the tires on your car?

Checking the age of your tires is important – and it’s easier than most people think.

A Simple Four-Digit Code Reveals When a Tire Was Made

During a recent segment of ABC Good Morning America, Sean Kane of Safety Research & Strategies demonstrated how to tell exactly when a tire was manufactured. It’s not nearly as difficult as you might have guessed.

Next to the tire’s DOT information on the tire’s sidewall is a four-digit code in an indented box. The first two digits indicate the week of manufacture, and the second two digits indicate the year. For example, a code that reads “1303” means that the tire was manufactured in the 13th week of 2003. A code that reads “4413” means that the tire was manufactured in the 44th week of 2013.

That’s it. Easy? Yes. Does everyone check? No.

Even though checking the age of your tires is simple, many of us simply don’t pay attention to the details. Many drivers just check how much tread is left on a tire with a cursory glance or trust our retailers to sell us safe products. Don’t put your life in their hands! The simple step of checking your tires’ age can literally be a life or death situation. Check your tires and urge friends and family to do the same.