Aged Tires May Cause Crashes; Old Tires Often Sold as New

Posted on August 17, 2011

Media sources report, that tires sold as new are often quite old, posing a safety risk to motorists and passengers.

Tires sold in the U.S. have no expiration date and can sit on store shelves for years until they are sold. However, tires, whether or not they are in use can begin to deteriorate, and after about six years can pose a safety hazard. The deterioration is caused by the tire’s rubber drying out and becoming less elastic, which can lead to tread separation. Once a tire fails, drivers can lose control of their vehicles, potentially resulting in a crash.

U.S. auto manufacturers have pushed for consumer notification of the risks of aged tires, with Ford urging the National Highway Transportation Administration to impose a six-year age limit for tires. In Great Britain, a tire trade group issued a recommendation that consumers avoid using tires that are more than 6 years old. U.S. tire manufacturers have resisted a time limit on tires saying that manufacturing advances have eliminated any age-related impact on tire performance.

Consumers can determine the age of tires by examining the Department of Transportation identifying code imprinted on tires. Tires manufactured after 2000 have four digits at the end of the code. The last two digits indicate the year the tire was made and the first two digits represent the week. For example a tire manufactured in the 32nd week of 2001 would have the code 3201.

Tires made prior to 2000 only have three numbers at the end of the code. Again the first two digits indicate the week, and the last digit indicates the year; therefore, a tire manufactured in the 41st week of 1994 would have the code 414 (as would a tire manufactured in the 41st week of 1984). Prior to 2007, the DOT code was generally imprinted on the inward side of the tire.

As a Fresno personal injury attorney, I encourage motorists to be diligent when purchasing tires, making sure to stay safe by avoiding aged tires.

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