All You Need To Know About The Tire Date Code

Imagine driving down the road on a beautiful rainy day when suddenly the front left tire of your vehicle bursts. Fortunately, you can maintain control AND safely maneuver the vehicle to the side of the road. 

You bought those tires just a few months ago from a local tire shop, and now you are wondering why they gave up so soon!

All tires have an expiration date, which many people fail to consider. When you buy new tires, chances are they have been sitting on the shelf for years, pretty close to their expiration dates, or already past them. This can jeopardize your car’s drivability, and your life as a tire’s age affects performance. 

Additionally, external factors like tread wear or UV and environmental exposure should also be considered as they make the tire brittle which leads to sidewall damage and even tire failure. 

That is why knowing the age of the tire is crucial, as it is the key to learning about it is available in the tire date code.

What Is A Tire Date Code?

The tire date code can be found near the edge of the rim among a series of characters, starting with the letters DOT. This is the Department of Transportation code, which signifies the tire’s compliance with the U.S. Transport Department’s laws and regulations. 

This code can give your information about tire manufacturer and the factory where it was made as well as loads of specific details used for tracking a tire in case of a recall.

After the letters DOT, you will see a series of letters and numbers followed by an encircled group of four digits tightly placed together. Since 2000, these four digits constitute the tire date code that tells you about when the product was manufactured.

The first two numbers of these four digits indicate the week of the year it was made, and the second two numbers indicate the year. For example, a tire marked with 1816 shows that it was made in the 18th week of 2016.

Tires Manufactured Before 2000

The tire date code provided before 2000 was based on the assumption that those tires will not remain in service after ten years; although they displayed the same information, but in only three digits.

The first two digits showed the week in which the tire was manufactured while the last single digit identified the year. Such as, a tire marked with 406 showed that it was made in the 40th week of 2006.

Also, to help in distinguishing a tire made in the 90s, a decade symbol in the shape of a triangle is located at the end of the DOT serial number. 

Why Should You Check The Tire Date Code?

You should be concerned about the date code because usually, the tires are kept in the warehouse for years, which can cause the rubber to degrade. 

Also, it takes six months and sometimes even up to a year for the tires to be shipped from the manufacturers to the suppliers. But the safety and integrity of these tires are ensured during storage.

Some factors that influence the aging of a tire includes direct sunlight, extremely high or low temperature or damp storage environment.

This is why it’s essential to check your tire’s date code and see when they were made. Also, through it, you can determine the time taken for them to be stored and shipped.

Proper Storage Can Increase The Life Of A Tire

Tires are made of organic materials such as rubber compounds that are susceptible to degradation with time. Exposure to sunlight, environmental oxidation, and weather are all factors that contribute to the unavoidable breakdown of these materials. Therefore, they must be protected from anything that influences their integrity. 

Strict industry regulations and standards are made mandatory for tire manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. They must be shielded from direct UV rays and extreme temperatures.

 The signs of aging start to appear after years of exposure, and they can be characterized by discoloration of the rubber and hairline cracks in the sidewalls. But these indications are not commonly seen in new tires.

Tires that are frequently used have more chances of getting removed from service due to tread wear out. Also, sometimes it might be too difficult to predict the replacement time of tires as they don’t degrade quickly when used frequently and maintained at the correct air pressure. 

How Many Years Do Tires Last?

Tires are considered to be new and fit for retail for up to 5 years from the date of manufacturing. But when in use, a general guideline and consensus of various tire industry associations all over the world state that tires have a life of 7-10 years. 

Even if you consider the tread wear after 5-6 years of usage, you will still have some time before witnessing the degradation of materials. But this is only possible with proper care and handling.

In short, even a tire older than ten years might seem perfect for driving, but we still recommend buying new tires for your car. While they may seem functional, their age is a massive factor for replacement. 

If you want to make your tires last longer, looking after them and checking the tire pressure frequently will help them to last longer. Apart from that, your driving style can also contribute to the life of the tires such as acceleration, harsh braking, or cornering.

In Conclusion

Along with understanding tire basics like pressure, tread, and the type, you must also be aware of the age of the tires. Just like other performance factors, age can also affect the performance of tires and even the overall capability and safety of your vehicle. 

Checking the date code available on the sidewall of a tire can help you determine its age. If your tires are older than 7-10 years, you should consider replacing them. 

Also, if the tire’s sidewall is dry and has small cracks, replace them with new ones as soon as possible. However, if you can’t really gauge the health of your tires, we recommend you to contact an expert.

Photo credit: Vladimir Razgulyaev/Shutterstock

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