Friday, October 30, 2009

Don't drive on tyres more than 6 years old.

With winter coming up, a lot of people will be getting ready to swap to snow tyres. This is a great time to do a critical safety check on your car. Find the DOT age code on your tyres and check how old they are. The DOT code is a 3- or 4-digit code stamped right at the end of the series of letters and numbers after 'DOT' on the tyre sidewall.
If it's a three-digit code, for example 345, then it means the tyre was manufactured in the 34th week of 1995. If it's a four-digit code, for example 1204, then it means the tyre was manufactured in the 12th week of 2004.
You should never be using, buying or riding around on tyres that are more than 6 years old no matter what condition they appear to be in. If you have tyres with a three digit date code, get rid of them - they're too old. If you have tyres with a four digit date code, then check my DOT tyre age calculator to find out the maximum age your date code should be for them to still be considered roadworthy.
It doesn't matter if the tyre looks new and has full tread depth - if it's more than 6 years old, it simply isn't safe to use any more. Bear this in mind when you go to buy your next set of tyres - ask to see the date code before they're fitted to your car. It's not uncommon for dealers to have old stock sitting around that even they don't know is more than 6 years out of date.


Paul said...

An interesting wee extra on this. The tires I have on my car are directional and need to be fitted on the correct side of the car. But the date code is only stamped on the right side of the tire. What this means is that the left tires don't appear to have a date stamp which is a little confusing.
In fact, this reply almost started with:
Chris, I can't find the date code on my tires...

Engineer in Athens said...

Chris, I don't fully agree with you on this. As a professional advanced driving instructor, I always make a point about tyre age to my students.

The advice I give follows the ROSPA recommendations:

"Tyres that have been in storage should not be placed into use if they are over 6 years old, from their date of manufacture. When a tyre has been in use, the effects of aging are lessened to a degree, but such tyres should be replaced after 10 years."

Inexplicably, tyre age is not part of the MOT in the UK. But in some EU countries it is forbidden to sell tyres over 6 years old and forbidden to use tyres over 10 years old.

cheers, Mark