August 11, 2008 | Mark Paradies

Monday Accident and Lessons Learned – How Old Are Your Tires?

My son had a flat last weekend. I looked up the date on his spare. It was made in 1994. I told him that he could drive in town to get the flat fixed, but not to drive at highway speeds.

How can you tell how old a tire is?

See the pictures below.

For tires made from 2000 and beyond…


For tires made between 1990-1999 …
(41st week of 1994)

What can happen to old tires – even ones that look good like the ones on my son’s 4-Runner?

Tread separation and an accident.

The problem comes from the aging of the compounds that make up the interior of the tire. These compounds age even if the tire is not being used.

As a rule of thumb, I’ve heard that tires older than six years old should be retired.

Now for the big problem … shelf life.

Retailers frequently sell tires that are more than a couple of years old. And today’s high-mileage tires may look fine on the outside for 80,000+ miles. But it may take a driver 5, 6, 7, or even 10 years to put this many miles on a car. So if you buy tires that are already 4 years old… you don’t have long to use them.

So learn from the accidents of others. Know and manage the age of your tires – especially your spare!

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