Tires are something that every vehicle needs but we as consumers no very little about them and most likely have never asked "just how old is that new tire you are selling me"? The numbers located on the tire will tell you if you know how to read them correctly.
First let’s take a peek at what those numbers on the outside of your tires mean so we can know the difference. Let’s take say, a standard tire like a: P/245/75/R/15. When you break it down you have the following information. The P means it is a passenger tire an LT would mean it is a light truck. In short the first designation is its use. Now on to the 245 which means the tire is 245 millimeters wide or the section width. The 75 means the tire is 75% percent as tall as it is wide. This is known as the aspect ratio. And the 15? Well that is the easiest part that is the rim diameter or rim size.
Confused yet? Well you’re not alone but if you read through the above numbers a few times they will begin to make more sense. But what really doesn’t make sense at all is why the real important numbers that mean how safe and how old those tires are. Even your life expectancy wile driving your car or truck may be in jeopardy if you don’t know those numbers. So where are the all important numbers located on every tire? On the inside of each tire of coarse where you really cant or don’t look. What makes matters worse is that they are so cryptic to the consumer that they are almost never understood.
You would think that big tire manufactures would make a number such as this not only easy to read but easy to understand right? Wrong! I mean dead wrong! So what is that important number and what does it really mean you may ask?
That number is the shelf life or the year and month the tire was made. That number is usually the last three or four digits after the DOT listing on the inside of each tire. Here is how to read it. After you see the letters DOT on the inside of your tire follow the number line to the very last three or four digits. Then look at those last numbers that look like they have been branded or encircled just below the tread. There you may see a number like: 4202 that “branded number” means that tire was made in the 42nd week in 2002. What that means to you is that if any tire is over six years old it should be pulled off the shelf or not used. According to not only the department of transportation but car manufactures like Ford have set this out as policy as well! Let’s take another example like: 414 that means that the tire was made in the 41st week in 1994!!! Wow that is a killer deal no pun intended.
Hear is the real deal, when installing new or reinstalling used summer tires this year just flip them around and check out the last numbers after the DOT stamp and do the math. If they are under six years old you are okay. If not then buyers beware!
If you need proof then just look at all the tire tread on the road that has been separated from car tires and see for your self. And if that doesn’t convince you then ask Robert Moore of New Town Pennsylvania. Who appeared on 20/20 to let us know that his son died from a blow out of a new tire that was just purchased yet was over 12 years old. And with no idea of his tire danger wile on a trip to Toronto Canada, his sons tire blew out and he was killed. I’m sure he will tell all of us this cryptic number is not intended to be a user friendly number nor is it meant to be interpreted by the general public. If we knew that information then all overstocked tires would not be able to be sold as easily.
So next time you see a super hot clearance deal look at the real deal on the backside of every tire made in America and decide for yourself if it is as safe as it is hot.
Until then happy motoring and may the force be with you.
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