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The evidence is clear: older tires are substantially more likely to fail than newer ones. This is because tires are made mostly of rubber, and rubber degrades with age. Sunlight, heat, ice, and general wear and tear can accelerate the breakdown of a tire. Once a tire begins to break down, it becomes more likely to fail in the form of a tread separation–often at highway speeds, when the failure is most likely to cause catastrophic injuries.

For most tires, this expiration date is six years from the date of manufacture. Tires expire because of a chemical process commonly referred to as oxidation, which simply means that as the tire components are exposed to oxygen , it does not matter if a tire is being used, stored as a spare, or simply waiting on a store shelf for an unsuspecting consumer.

Expired Tires are a Hidden Hazard

Tire aging is a “hidden hazard” because most consumers don’t know that tires expire in six years and it is difficult for most consumers to tell how old a tire is without deciphering an 11 digit code that is imprinted on the side of the tire. Fortunately, you can crack the code on the side of a tire to determine a tire’s actual age. Federal rules mandate that the tire’s D.O.T. code be clearly branded or etched on the side of each tire. For most tires, the D.O.T. number is typically 11 digits. If the tire has only 10 digits, the tire was manufactured before the year 2000. A current D.O.T. number looks like this for a tire made in the fifth week of 2011:

Tire Manufacturers Warn that Tires Expire in Six Years

Many auto manufacturers have taken small steps to warn consumers by placing warnings within the owner’s manual of newer model vehicles. However, due to the cryptic code tire manufacturers use on tires, the warnings are of only limited use to consumers. Nonetheless, the following manufacturers have issued warnings on 2013 and newer vehicles about tire aging:

Written by: TireSafetyGroup.com

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