Few consumers think about the age of their tires. When in reality, it is made of rubber and begins to degrade over time despite the fact that it may still look brand new. It is this degradation process that can make your tires unsafe to drive on. They do not have an expiration date resulting in a hidden danger.
Many tires that are sold have been sitting in inventory for long periods of time. Over time this rubber begins to break down and lose its elasticity. It is this aging process that causes it to become unstable and therefore unsafe to drive on. They could literally come apart or explode while driving causing serious injury or death.
It is important to check the age of your tires. Few people realize the danger of driving on dated tires. The birth date of your tire is imprinted on the wall of the tire. It is usually the last digits in a series of DOT numbers. The first two digits represent the week it was manufactured, while the last one or two digits represent the year it was manufactured. If the tire was manufactured before 2000, there are only 3 digits to signify the week and the year of manufacture. For example if the last three digits are 349, then it was manufactured in the 34th week of 1999. If this number is not visible on the outside of your tire, look at the interior wall underneath your vehicle. Obviously this information is not meant to be consumer friendly.
Rubber starts to deteriorate shortly after it is manufactured. Research has shown that you should replace your tires if they are six years of age or older. After 6 years of age they can become increasingly dangerous by coming apart or exploding. Do not trust the tread on the tire. Look on the tire to verify the year of manufacture. Replace them every 6 years.
Tires have a shelf life and ignoring this could end your life. For more information see the following news story