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The tires of a car play a major role in your safety. So, how old can tires be and still be safe?

As a general rule of thumb, car tires should be swapped after being in use for 10 years. This is despite how the car is used or the condition of the tires (provided they’ve been on for the 10 year period).

Wear and tear can take a toll on the tires of a car, which is why they should be properly maintained and if needed replaced to ensure the safety of the vehicle’s driver and passengers. But, just how old should tires be is a question that’s often asked by concerned vehicle owners.

As the experts in vehicle maintenance, here you are going to find out all there is to know about car tires and how old can tires be and still be safe.

Table of Contents

Read the Expiration Date

All tires, in fact, have an expiration date. Surprisingly, many tire buyers and dealers are unaware of the expiration dates. Uninformed customers may believe they bought brand new tires when, in fact, they may have been sitting on the shelf for years. The tires are many years old, despite the fact that they were never used on a car.

Every tire has a date it was made—and an expiration date that is normally six to ten years after that date. Most car manufacturers advise drivers to change their tires every six years. Waiting any longer is a dangerous proposition for drivers and a risk to tire integrity.

Evaluating Car Tires

While maintenance is crucial to make sure that your car’s tires are in good shape, it is also important to evaluate the tires from time to time to look for signs of wear and tear. Since car tires are constantly exposed to the elements and various rough terrain, it is not unheard of for car tires to lose their treads or alignment, along with other factors that need to be checked from time to time.

The Tire’s Rotation

Rotating your tires will help them last longer. The front tires on front-wheel-drive automobiles will wear out faster and can be replaced with the rear tires. For rear-wheel-drive automobiles and trucks, the opposite is true. All-wheel-drive vehicles may also require rotation. The majority of owner's manuals include a recommended pattern to rotate tires to adequately distribute wear. Tire rotation is recommended by the USTMA every 5000 to 8000 miles.


The tire/wheel combination must be balanced, and the tires must be spherical. A balancing machine, which rotates the wheel to examine where the high and low points are and identifies any imbalance, will be used by tire shops and mechanics. The tire shop will add weight to the wheel, which will be banged on. These companies can also ensure that your wheels are adjusted to keep your vehicle tracking straight and prevent tire wear.

Tire Pressure

The pressure should be set at the suggested amount by the vehicle manufacturer, which may generally be located on the doorjamb or in the owner's handbook. Many tire shops will check your pressure. Gas stations include digital readouts in their air pumps; however, they are not always reliable. When the tires are cold, that is, they haven't been driven on for many hours, it's preferable to check the pressures.

Tire Tread and Traction

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a tire is deemed dangerous and should be replaced whenever the tread has worn down to 2/32 of an inch (NHTSA). The tiny bars in the tread display when the tire needs to be replaced and are found on many tires.

These will begin to make noise in order to inform the driver that they are in need of attention. You may also utilize a penny, which should be placed in the tread with Lincoln's head, according to the NHTSA. It's time for new tires if the top of Lincoln’s head is visible.

In an ideal world, every tire would score well in all three areas, but there are compromises in life, as there are in almost everything else. The tire with the highest treadwear rating, for example, is likely to have the lowest traction rating. A tire with high traction, on the other hand, is unlikely to survive as long.

Different rubber compounds are combined for distinct tires to provide different features that different drivers like. So, what method does the agency use to calculate the ratings? The subject tire's tread wear is determined by comparing it to a control tire with a grade of 100. A tire with a grade of 200 may be anticipated to last twice as long as a tire with a grade of 80; a tire with a grade of 80 is normally less durable. The highest documented treadwear rating is now 700.

Read Between the Lines

Tires have a variety of ratings on the sidewall. They make certain that the tires are labeled with information about their performance and longevity. This is to guarantee that tires aren't utilized in situations where they might injure the vehicle or its occupants, while also allowing the driver to select tires that are appropriate for their driving style.

The Uniform Tire Quality Grading system, or UTQG rating, was created to guarantee that all tires meet a specified standard set by the Department of Transportation. But what exactly does this imply? How should you evaluate a tire's temperature rating in order to discover the best fit for your needs and vehicle?

So, as a motorist, what can you do to protect yourself? When purchasing new tires, request the most recent models and examine the tire's production date. The production date is stamped on the inner of the tire as a Department of Transportation (DOT) code of 10 or 11 characters. The code for new tires is always 11 characters.

Tires made before the year 2000, on the other hand, have a 10-character code. Because a tire's projected life lifetime was 10 years, expiration dates for tires made before 2000 were based on a 10-year scale. Tires should only be expected to last six years, according to current recommendations.

Some tire manufacturers have recently started stamping partial numbers on the outside of tires (facing away from the car) so that the date may be checked without having to remove the wheel. The most crucial piece of information about a tire is this partial code. The tire's production date is represented by the final four digits of the DOT code.

The last two digits indicate the year in which the tire was manufactured, while the first two digits indicate the week number within that year. For example, a tire made in the 36th week of 2001 was found on a trailer that had been sitting in a field unused for ten years and exhibited evidence of dry-rot cracking. Because trailer tires are not subjected to the same everyday abuse as automotive tires, it's uncertain if they need to be replaced every six years.

Going the Distance

The average person will drive around 15 thousand miles per year, according to the FHA. This implies that many of the tires that are available run around 60,000 miles provided they are properly cared for and maintained. The USTMA found that the vast majority were up to 4 years old. However, there was no way to tell how many miles had been used, calculating four years by 15 thousand miles each year validates the tire durability estimate.

Calculate the yearly usage to determine how quickly your tires will wear out. Subtract the number of years from the number of miles on the odometer. Compare it to any manufacturer's or warranty to determine what to expect. For all those who live in a cold region and use them for a few months, the tires survive longer, but bear in mind the tire age considerations.


How Old Can Tires Be And Still Be Safe?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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