Tire Safety

Tire Tread Up Close on Car

Tires affect your car’s ability to accelerate, stop, and turn in all conditions. Worn or just plain old tires—tires where the rubber has broken down—is one of the easiest safety hazards to avoid with just a little knowledge and attention.

The Department of Transportation recommends changing tires at least every 10 years, and tire manufacturers recommend every 6 years. Rubber deteriorates over time due to UV and environmental exposure and the results are brittle tire structure resulting in sidewall damage, and ultimately to total tire failure. Those dates are from the “born on date”—otherwise known as the date the tire was actually manufactured—not from the date of purchase or date of installation.

How to find the “born on date” stamped on tires. The “born on date” is molded into the sidewalls and coded to comply with federal requirements. Near the edge of the rim, look for a code starting with DOT. DOT means the tire has passed DOT’s testing requirements. The next 2 digits are the plant code for the plant the tire was manufactured in. The next 2 digits are the code for the tire size. The next 4 digits are the manufacturer’s code, and the last 4 digits (or 3 digits if manufactured before 2000) express the actual date the tire was manufactured. For example, the last 4 digits 4513 would mean a tire has been manufactured in week 45 of 2013. Be sure to check the actual “born on date” when purchasing any tire. Sometimes a discount may not really be such a discount, especially if a tire has already been sitting in some warehouse for 4 or 5 years before you purchased and mounted it.

NHTSA’s Crash Causation Survey found that there was an issue with a tire before the crash occurred in 1 of 11 crashes (9%). Issues included tread separations, blowouts, bald tires, and under-inflation. In addition to safety, under-inflated tires result in poor fuel economy, sluggish handling, longer stopping distances, and increased stress on tire components.


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Check list from nhtsa.gov