Tires are your vehicle’s first line of defense. After all, they’re the only part of the vehicle that comes in contact with the ground. (If anything else on your vehicle is touching the ground, it’s definitely a good time to call your mechanic!) All kidding aside – as your first line of defense, it’s important to know whether or not your tires are in good condition so you’re not unexpectedly left stranded.
Although your tires may appear fine at a quick glance, there are certain warning signs that it’s wise to keep an eye out for. We’ll go over the most common ones so you know what to look for, and can stay safe on the road this season.
WHAT IS TIRE AGING
Tire aging happens through a process called oxidation. Over time, as the rubber in your tires is exposed to oxygen, it begins to stiffen and crack. Think of it like an old rubber band that has lost its elasticity. As this loss of elasticity happens in your tires, it can cause steel belts in the tread to separate from the tire. If your tires get to this point of deterioration, there’s a solid risk that they could fail on you while driving. In a best-case scenario, it’ll cause a hiccup in your day, or at worst – result in a severe accident.
WHEN DO YOU NEED TO REPLACE YOUR TIRES
You can either use the tread depth test or check your tire manufacturing date to gauge when it’s time to replace your tires.
Tread Depth - The easiest way to measure tread depth is the penny test. Take a penny and place into your tire’s groove, head-down, facing you. If you see all of Lincoln’s head, this means that your tread is less than 2/32 inches, and it’s time to replace your tires.
Manufacturing Date - On your tire’s sidewall, there is a four-digit DOT code. The first two numbers are the week that it was made, and the last two are the year. For example, DOT 1219 means that it was built in the 12th week of 2019. To ensure the safety of you and those who ride with you, it’s recommended to replace tires six years from the manufacturing date, regardless of whether your tire is beginning to show wear or not.
HOW LONG DO TIRES LAST
While there is no way to put an exact expiration date on tires, the DOT recommends replacing tires 6 years from their manufacturing date. Factors like climate, the conditions of use, and storage play a role in how long tires last. Let’s take a closer look at these factors:
Climate: Exposure to heat and the elements will speed up the aging process.
Usage: It may come as a surprise to learn that tires that aren’t used very often are more vulnerable to aging. If tires are used regularly, the movement helps circulate the rubber’s internal oils, which prevents them from getting dry and stiff.
Storage: Improper storage can shorten the life of your tires. It is best to store tires unmounted vertically in a cool, dry area such as a basement, climate-controlled garage, or shop. When ready to use, be sure to thoroughly inspect each tire for any cracking, tread separation, or visible defects. Also, don’t forget to check the manufacturing date.
Good habits can prevent premature tire aging. Maintain proper air pressure in tires, rotate your tires regularly, get routine inspections, and follow the tips above. You’ll be rewarded with the peace of mind that comes when you know you prepared properly.
Have more questions on tire aging and its effects? Give our tire experts a call!