The European and the British people are warned about aging tires. They are warned that old tires can be dangerous. The European and the British people are educated that a brand new tire, fresh from the store shelves, might not be brand new. The European and the British people are educated to check tire age and to be cognizant of the dangers associated with it.
The American public is not warned about aging tires; that old tires can be dangerous; or that “brand new” tires on the store shelves may be 2, 3, or 6 years old when they are sold and put on our car. This can impact the amount of life which you can expect to receive from the tire. Furthermore, many are not aware that the rate at which tires wear can vary based upon where you live. Fortunately, it is possible to determine the age of the tires which you are buying. It is also possible to take steps to ensure their longevity.
A recent article posted by a colleague at Injury Board, Mike Bryant, provides some very useful links to an older 20/20 report that I have to confess I had completely forgotten about.
In Florida, apparently the heat fosters more than just mosquitoes, humidity and hurricanes. Down here in Florida, the heat also causes tires to wear at a higher rate; something that tire manufacturers have known for some time.
If the higher ambient temperatures subject tires to a higher failure rate, the age of the tire also figures importantly into the failures. Again, something tire manufacturers have known and have apparently been waiting patiently for years to be regulated about, well, by someone.
HOW TO DETERMINE THE AGE OF THE TIRES WHICH YOU ARE BUYING
When you buy a “brand new” tire from a retailer you expect, well, a “brand new” tire. You may not get what you expect. Tires can sit on shelves for 2, 3, 6, or more years before being sold. All that time, the tires are being exposed to the air, drying the rubber out and aging while they sit there on the shelf. They still look brand new; they still have great tread depth; and they still smell new; but they have been degrading the whole time. This can result in the tire not lasting as long, or being as trustworthy, as what you would expect from something “new.”
It is important that you determine the age of the tires which you are purchasing. A tire’s date of manufacture is found by examining a code which is marked on its sidewall. This code will follow the “DOT” marking. Interpreting the code is straightforward. The last four digits of the code tell you the week of a given year in which the tires were manufactured. So, for example, if the code is a string of numbers which ends with “3022,” then the tires were manufactured in the 30th week of 2022.
When you are purchasing new tires, it is your right to ask to inspect them before they are placed on the vehicle. This is a great opportunity to view the DOT markings discussed above. It is suggested that you do not simply take the word of the salesman that the tires are “new.” The salesperson may be unaware of the actual age of the tires or, unfortunately, they may simply be telling you what you want to hear when they are attempting to sell you a product. Do not be afraid to assert your rights and ask to inspect the product which you are purchasing.
HOW FLORIDA’S HOT CLIMATE CAN IMPACT TIRE WEAR
The heat and year-round warm climate in Florida can cause tires to wear out much faster. According to Autoily, tires which can be rated to last upwards of 50,000 miles may in fact only last 20,000 – 30,000 miles in our state. This is due to the fact that increased exposure to warm temperatures, sunlight, and coastal climates can speed up wear and tear. If your car is stored outside, it is being subjected to these elements more regularly. This means that if you are someone who drives your car for 12,000 miles per year (which is what many people consider to be average), then your tires may need to be replaced in less than two years. When the impact of Florida’s climate is added to the fact that you may already be purchasing older tires, as explained above, it is understandable why tires in our state may be more prone to failure.
TIPS FOR PURCHASING & MAINTAINING TIRES IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA
According to Autoily (linked to above), it is suggested that Floridians purchase summer tires as opposed to “all season” tires, due to our year round climate. While the climate can vary by time of the year it is, generally speaking, suggested that one use summer tires as they are seen as more durable against our state’s conditions. Autoily also suggests that, if you do not wish to use summer tires, that you purchase passenger tires if you are operating within more constrained finances. Also, performance tires are seen as being a good option – although summer tires are seen as the best choice.
So, how can you tell the age of your tires? Not easy with many tire manufacturers. The special coding used on many tires can only be found by crawling under the car and looking at the inside of the tire. The codes will give you tire size, location of manufacture, and the date of manufacture. The date is the important part.
Everyone should pay close attention to tire health and age, but clearly, based on studies by the National Highway Safety Administration, people in states where the ambient temperatures remain warm to hot all year should pay special attention:
- When you purchase tires, ask the retailer to show you the date of manufacture.
- Do not purchase tires which are already 3 to 6 years old.
- Check tire pressure often.
- Maintain manufacturer-recommended levels of tire pressure.
- Return to the tire dealer anytime you have repeated loss of pressure in tires.
- Avoid petroleum-based tire “cleaners”.
- Inspect your tires, both the exterior and interior, for wear or damage.
- If you hit something while motoring down the road, inspect your tires at your next opportunity to verify any damage.
One of the most important steps for caring for your tires can be to store your car in a garage if that is an option. This will help reduce their exposure to the sun and other elements. While it is understood that not everyone has access to a garage, such storage should be utilized if available. Unfortunately, many people do not store their cars in their garage simply because they feel it is “inconvenient” to have to back it in and out. Understand that this level of “convenience” comes with the potential expense of having to replace your tires more frequently.
Properly maintaining your tires can help you to avoid liability in the event of a blowout which leads to an accident. All drivers are required to exercise “reasonable care” in the operation of their vehicle. This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that you are not operating equipment which poses a risk to others. By properly caring for your tires, as well as other components of your vehicle, you help to ensure a reduction in your liability exposure.