Car tyres - how old is too old?

Posted by: Cal on 4/06/2013

Category: General

Just when you thought that your car tyres were fine and dandy as long as they had enough tread, we're here to keep you on your toes once again.

This time our subject is, well, time!

One of the more debated questions in mechanic bays across the country is how old is too old when it comes to car tyres.

While the standard measures for gauging roadworthiness remain tread depth and wear patterns, as well as general physical condition, it is just as important to consider how many years your tyres have been in action.

What's my tyres' age again?

First of all, you're bound to ask, how am I supposed to know how old my tyres are?

While it's easy enough to find out when your vehicle came off the production line, things can get tricky when it comes to individual components.

It can be safe to assume that tyres on a new car share a similar birthday, but what about secondhand cars, or new models with tyres of unknown provenance?

Luckily you needn't resort to radiocarbon dating or use that lab from CSI to figure out when your tyres were made - their birthday is literally branded into them.

You need to look for the serial Tyre Identification Number. This is a group of letters and numbers. For tyres made after the year 2000, the last four digits represent the week and year they were manufactured.

For instance, '1505' would denote a tyre made in the 15th week of 2005.

Are my tyres over the hill?

Now you know how old your tyres are, how do you know whether it is time to send them off to a retirement home?

Well this is where expert opinion can vary. All tyres are different, even tyres of the same model and size, and there is no predicting how the wear and tear of use will affect their life expectancy.

Most agree that once tyres are five years old, however, owners should be aware that the effects of ageing could start to put them more at risk

Warning signs

Ageing tyres, much like us humans, aren't immune to showing a few wrinkles as they approach their later years.

Tell-tale signs that your tyres may be losing their youthful vigour include the appearance of widespread cracking or bulging in the sidewall or tread.

If you see these signs, or your tyres are reaching their fifth birthday soon, it may be time to consider replacements.

It's polite to ask

Knowing how old your tyres are is as critical to tyre maintenance as regularly checking tread levels and air pressure.

Surprisingly, it seems that many motorists are missing out on this important safety check.

A recent survey by UK tyre retailer Kwik Fit found that 83 per cent of UK drivers don't know how to assess how old their tyres are.

Despite this, more than 6 million motorists said they thought at least one of their tyres was more than five years old.

Kwik Fit communications director Roger Griggs said that even if tyre tread depth was in good condition, tyre structure can decay over time.

He said that it was particularly important for those that didn't drive as much as they used to to take note of their tyres' age, as less frequent use can speed up the ageing process.

"Low mileage, older cars tend to be most at risk from premature ageing - as their owners assume there is no problem if they can still see plenty of tread," said Mr Griggs in a statement.

Unsure about your tyres?

If you have any concerns about the age or conditions of your tyres, come on down to your local Tyreright. Our experts will take a close look and provide expert advice to ensure the safety of your tyres.