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How To Determine The Age Of Your Tires

by Criss Deniel

There are many factors that contribute to how quickly and slowly a tire wears out. When a tire is properly maintained, you can expect a longer tire life. Proper maintenance means maintaining air pressure at all times, rotating them regularly, and having them inspected by professionals. According to car manufacturers, tires can last up to 10 years as long as they are routinely inspected after 5 years from the date of manufacture.

Determining the age of your tire through numbers and letters

If you will look closely at the sidewall of a tire, you will notice numbers and letters; however, deciphering them can be a challenge. An easier way to determine the age of your tire is to know its Department of Transportation (DOT) number.

Tires that were manufactured after 2000 have a 4-digit DOT code. For example, if the DOT code is 1116, the first 2 numbers represent the week that the tire was made while the last 2 numbers represent the year. To put it simply, 1116 means that the tire was produced on the 11th week of 2016.

The 3-digit code on tires that were manufactured before 2000 is more difficult to decipher. While the first 2 numbers indicate the week and the 3rd digit indicates the year it was manufactured, it will be difficult to know what decade it was. For example, if the 3-digit number is 328, the tire was made in the 32nd week of either 1978 or 1988. For the sake of safety, if you see the 3-digit DOT code on your tire, it means that it was manufactured in the last century and requires replacement immediately.

The DOT number was put on tires to make it easier for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to recall old tires and keep track of manufacturing dates. However, if you cannot find the DOT code on the tire, a better option is to have it checked for signs of aging like tread distortion or small hairline cracks on the sidewall.

Why buying used tires is not recommended

New tires are an expensive investment particularly if you add the costs of mounting and balancing. There are tire retailers that offer used tires as an alternative. Used tires are relatively cheaper than new ones but you won’t how they were maintained and in what conditions they were used. The used tire may look new because it has been kept for years inside a hot garage where it deteriorated slowly. It is also very likely that the tire was punctured by a nail and was patched in a tire shop. A tire that is supposedly new may have been manufactured in the last century and has passed its warranty period.

A new set of tires from reliable brands is definitely more expensive but you are guaranteed that the tires are brand new and free from any defects. Investing in good tires is a smart decision because they are designed for longevity and superior handling performance and braking.  They are manufactured from high-quality materials to provide a good grip on the road surface.

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