It’s often said that tires are the only thing between you and the road. Unfortunately, most people don’t think very much about their tire safety unless they have a flat. But old tires can suddenly blow out even if they look like they have enough tread.
A recent article on Autoblog highlighted some of the potential pitfalls of aging tires as part of a story on the tire industry’s efforts to block legislation to require inspection of tires on the basis of age.
An ABC News investigation revealed that the Rubber Manufacturers of America have spent $36,000 in lobbying funds in an effort to defeat Massachusetts’ legislation requiring tires’ age to be checked as part of regular vehicle inspections. Similar efforts have also been made in seven other states throughout the country, according to ABC.
Requiring tire inspections would be a sensible step to reduce the risk of car accidents caused by blowouts. As tires become older, there is an increased risk of tread separation that could lead to fatal collisions. For example, in February, four people were killed in a Louisiana crash after the tire tread separated on a 10-year-old SUV tire.
Major auto manufacturers – such as General Motors, Chrysler and Ford – recommend that tires should be replaced within six years after the date they are manufactured, regardless of how much tread is left. Michelin indicates that tires have a 10-year shelf life, even if they are never installed.
The reason that tires need to be replaced is because they become less elastic over time. Aging can also cause the internal structure to degrade, making tire tread separation much more likely. When a tire is left on a vehicle for too long or an older “new” tire is put into service, it causes a risk to the occupants of the vehicle as well as to others on the road.
Want to find out how old your tires are? All tires have a four-digit code, with the first two digits reflecting the week they were manufactured and the last two digits reflecting the year that they were manufactured. However, most drivers do not know about the code, much less how to read it.
Consumers need to be aware of the danger that tires can present and of their rights in case a tire does fail and cause a collision.
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