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Tires are obviously extremely important to your car, but we tend to take maintaining them for granted because of how expensive they can be. How does not caring for your tires affect the car in the long run, you ask? Tires that are old or in bad shape may affect the car’s ability to accelerate, stop, or turn in poor conditions, jeopardizing your safety and the longevity of your car. Regardless of tire size, learn how to tell how old your tires are below to avoid any issues that may come from being unaware!
The most obvious way to identify whether you should be in the market for new tires or not is by looking at them. If the rubber is worn down, there is build up and dirt present, or tires are exposed to rough road conditions, they will deteriorate much faster. Driving in a rash manner and braking frequently causes more damage and front tires will need to be replaced more often due to movement through steering. Other considerations that may affect the aging process include whether or not the tires are inflated properly, if they have ever been repaired for a puncture, or are incorrectly aligned.
The DOT (Department of Transportation) number is essential in identifying the following about your tires: tire size, manufacturer’s unique, as well as the code week, year, and place of manufacture. Comprised of 10 to 12 characters, the DOT number can be found on the sidewall of your tires. The sidewall is located between the tread (textured part on the outside of the tire) and the bead (the ring that surrounds the rim), and provides stability and keeps air from escaping the tire. Outlined below is a breakdown on how to read the DOT code based on the year your tires were manufactured.
The date of manufacture can be identified by reading the last four digits of the DOT number: the first two digits are the week the tires were manufactured, and the last two digits signify the year of manufacture. For example, if the last four digits of a code are 0506, the tire was manufactured in the fifth week of 2006.
Slightly different to DOT codes for tires manufactured recently, the date of manufacture for older tires is the last three digits of the DOT number. The first two digits reference the week within the year they were manufactured and the last digit indicates what year it was within the decade. For example, if the last three digits read 046, the tire was manufactured in the fourth week of the sixth year of the decade. Tires made in the 1990s have a small triangle following the DOT code, making it easier to decipher the decade of manufacture.
In some cases, the DOT number seems to be incomplete but current regulations only require the full code to be imprinted on one sidewall. To find the full DOT number, look at the other sidewall of the tire.
When purchasing tires, ask questions about what kind of setting the tires are stored in to ensure you are getting tires that have been kept in optimal conditions. If your “new” tires are found to be more than two years old, you can request a newer date to get the most life out of your tires. You will also have to replace tires more frequently if you live in a warm climate or drive at high speeds, causing tires to generate more heat.
Manufacturers recommend that tires are replaced every six to ten years depending on the severity and frequency of use, and with this list you can take the guessing out of tire buying. If you feel you may need a new set of tires, find tires in your area today with help from TreadHunter!