Do Tires Get Too Old to Use?

When Is A Tire Too Old? And What Does It Mean For Your Current Rubbers?

Updated October 15, 2018

There are many stories about failures occurring with older tires, often tires that appear to be in great shape.  And, unfortunately, many have resulted in fatal injuries. Perhaps the most recent to consider the horrific accident that killed the actor Paul Walker in 2013.  It has been revealed that the Porsche Carrera GT in which he was riding had nine-year-old tires. The California Highway Patrol noted that the tires’ age might have played a factor in the accident.

For years, people have relied on the tread depth to judge a tire’s condition. But the rubber compounds in a tire deteriorate with time, regardless of the condition of the tread. An old tire is quite capable of being a safety hazard. For most of us, old tires will never be an issue. If you drive somewhere around 12,000-15,000 miles annually, a tire’s tread will wear out in three to four years, long before the rubber compound does. But if you only drive 6,000 miles a year, aging tires could be a real issue.

when is a tire too old

Common rubber bands can illustrate the point. Everyone knows that rubber bands age poorly and can get brittle and develop cracks within a few years. That’s essentially what happens to a tire. Cracks in the rubber begin to develop over time. They may appear on the surface and inside the tire as well. This cracking can eventually cause the steel belts in the tread to separate from the rest of the tire.  The scary part is that this may not affect a tires performance during ordinary use but it could lead to failure under extreme circumstances

So how do you determine the age of a tire?  Tires made after the year 2000 have a four-digit DOT code. The first two numbers represent the week in which the tire was made. The second two represent the year. So, a  tire with a DOT code of 1207 was made in the 12th week of the year 2007.

So how long does a tire last? The guys at Urse Honda explain that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no specific guidelines on tire aging. Some carmakers such as Nissan and Mercedes-Benz tell consumers to replace tires six years after their production date, regardless of tread life. Some tire manufacturers, such as Continental and Michelin, say a tire can last up to 10 years.

In summary, of all your vehicle’s components, its tires have a huge effect on the way it handles and brakes. So keep your eyes on your tires, your life could depend on it.


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Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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