Old Tires: Are They Safe?
Written by greg on June 14, 2015
In terms of cars and car maintenance, most individuals do not give much thought to the age of their tires. Most of the concern is often put on the engine and other major mechanical components, as well as on general maintenance, such as ensuring the oil has been changed. However, research has also shown that the tires themselves can become extremely hazardous if they are aged.
According to a report by ABC News, car companies Ford, GM, and Chrysler “all urge motorists to replace tires that are six years of age or older because of the possibility the rubber in them could degrade and create a dangerous situation in which the tire loses its tread.”
In addition, according to Sean Kane, a safety consultant that works with state governments and local trial lawyers, “If we are thinking about a universal practice that inherently keeps you safe, six years is a good place to go.”
The problem has become so severe that many lobbyists are seeking to enact laws in eight states that would seek to require inspection of tires in order to gauge age. As noted, aging tires could potentially cause tire failures and cause loss of control resulting in injuries or even fatalities related to car accidents. This proposed legislation has been defeated by both American tire companies, as well as tire industry trade groups, such as the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
This, then, begs the question on just how safe old tires can be, or if they are extremely dangerous as outlined.
To that end, the question can be answered by substantial research. According to the NTSB Tire Symposium, “since service and storage conditions vary widely, accurately predicting the actual serviceable life of any specific tire based on simple calendar year age is not possible.”
However, in saying that the NTSB does indicate that tires age over time, but the issue remains there is no specific age which problems happen. For some tires, the potential problems may begin at six years, while for others, it may be much quicker. As noted by the NTSB the key is to look for specific signs of aging in order to gauge whether or not your tire needs replacing.
Some of these signs include:
- Physical signs of damage (cuts, cracks, bulges, vibration, etc.)
- Signs of abuse (under inflation, overloading, etc.)
- Tires, even spares, should be inspected monthly. This inspection should focus on inflation pressure, tread wear, and tire damage.
- Inspection should be supplemented by rotation, balancing, and alignment services.
- Tire condition should be assessed regularly to determine if there are any physical or visual signs of damage.
As always, if you have inspected the tire and see any signs of damage, or you can feel the roughness of the road when driving (more so than usual) it is imperative to change your tires.
Remember, even though tire age and the need to replace said tire can fluctuate pending on many different factors, it is still essential that one continually inspects and maintains their tires, replacing when necessary. In doing so, one can prevent potential accidents from happening.
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