How to tell if your tires are safe
With so many of us depending on our cars, I wanted to share a safety tip with you. This one is about old tires.
Tires last a long time, a lot longer than they did when I was a kid. Back then, it seems like we had to buy tires every couple of years, or 30,000 miles. But nowadays tires might have 60,000 miles on them and the tread still looks good. But that doesn’t mean the tires are really good.
Tire companies recommend replacing our tires when they are 6-8 years old, even if they look good. This is because tires degrade with exposure to heat and sunlight. This is called oxidation, and it can cause tires to fail without warning. But, even before they get that old, sometimes they just don’t “feel right.”
Have you ever noticed that your car seems to ride rough, and you can feel every crack in the road? You probably think you need shocks, but the real culprit is old tires. But there is another problem: Stopping distances increase as tires age and the tread wears.
As tires age, the rubber gets hard and loses its “give.” Because tires are your only contact with the road, this causes problems with grip, especially on wet roads. A rough ride is one thing, but skidding on wet or slick pavement is another.
So, before you hit the road for your next adventure, stop at your tire shop or your local auto shop and have them take a good look at your tires. If you want to look at the date on the tires yourself, look on the sidewall and you will see the letters “DOT” followed by a series of letter numbers: DOT X000 XXXX 4014 The last set of numbers representing the week and year the tires were made. In this case it was the 40th week of 2014. This is good knowledge to have. Never buy tires that are more than two years old. I have found more than once that the “Big Tire Sale” at XYZ Tire Center & Nail Salon is really them selling four year old tires they got really cheap.
Check the tires on your vehicles and if they are getting close to the six years old mark. If so, go ahead and replace them before you take a trip. In any case get all of the households tires looked at. Shops will do it for free, and it could save your trip, or you.
Mike Herzing is an ASE Master Technician, Former Automotive Instructor, and Current Host of Let’s Talk Wheels with Mike Herzing heard on ESPN 97.5 Houston and The Lets Talk Wheels Radio Network. Saturday Mornings.
Email Mike: Mike@letstalkwheels.com