How dangerous are Aging Tires?
The Danger of Aging Tires
Even though the tire industry still spends thousands of dollars to defeat legislation that would require tires be inspected on the basis of age, there is plenty of evidence that proves the danger of tire aging.
During the investigation that lead to the death of actor Paul Walker, the California Highway Patrol found that the Porsche Carrera GT he was driving had nine-year-old tires. The tire’s age could have led to separation and cracking which caused the accident. Stories like this show that just because a tires tread depth is still good does not mean that the tire is in good condition. The rubber compounds can deteriorate over time even if the tire has never been used.
Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., compares an aging tire to an old rubber band. “Over time they become less elastic. If you take a rubber band that’s been sitting around a long time and stretch it, you will start to see cracks in the rubber,” Kane stated. Cracking can start inside the tire even though it appears to be fine on the surface. The cracking can even lead to the steel belts in the tread separating from the rest of the tire.
How long will a tire last?
Although there are many differing opinions on how long a tire will last, the majority of car makers say six years. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration does not give any guidelines on tire aging, but suggest looking to the car makers and manufacturers. Although we suggest replacing tires that are six years or older, there are many other factors that can affect the tire much sooner. Heat and storage can deteriorate a tire much more quickly. Spare tires that sit on cars that are not driven frequently can basically be baked in warmer climate areas.
You can read a tires age by looking at the DOT (Department of Transportation) number on the side of the tire. It is a four digit code in which the first two numbers represent the week the tire was made and the second two numbers represent the year. Tires made before 2000 were made with a three digit code and should not be driven on.
When you are getting your tires replaced, make sure that you are getting new and fresh tires. Just because the tire hasn’t been used does not mean that it just got to the tire shop. Insist on the newest tires. Dispose of any tire that is older than six years so that it is not used by anyone else.
For more information you can visit Safety Research & Strategies Inc. here.