How to Decode the Date That Tires Expire

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Tires are constructed from materials such as rubber and fabric that lose their strength and flexibility over time. Often it is not possible to determine through visual inspection whether a tire is too old or dangerous. Tires are not manufactured with an expiration date, but it is possible to figure out if a tire is too old to use safely.

  • Look for the tire identification number branded in the sidewall of the tire. This ID number starts with the letters DOT followed by a combination of 10 to 12 letters and numbers. If you see DOT plus just a few letters or numbers, the full ID number is on the other side of the tire.

  • Note whether the last part of the ID number consists of three or four digits. If you see just three numbers, the tire was manufactured before the year 2000; jump to Step 5.

  • Decode the tire manufacture date. The four-digit number provides the week and year the tire was manufactured. For example, if the digits are 4308, the tire was manufactured in the 43rd week of 2008.

  • Determine the age of the tire by subtracting the date of manufacture from the current date. Remember that a year has 52 weeks and each month is approximately 4.3 weeks long.

  • Properly dispose of any overage tires. Consumer safety experts say a tire over 6 years old is too old to use safely.

Tips & Warnings

  • Tire manufacturers usually provide a 5-year warranty for their tires. If a tire is less than 5 years old, has usable tread and develops a problem, the warranty will cover some of the replacement cost.
  • Motor homes and other vehicles that are driven few miles per year are prone to having overage tires with good tread remaining.
  • Old tires can fail catastrophically, resulting in loss of vehicle control and possible injury or death. It is unsafe to drive on any tire more than 6 years old.
  • Check with your local government or a tire store for proper disposal of old tires. Old tires are a serious environmental issue.

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