Recent news reports about old tires failing has experts asking if tires should have expiration dates the same as many other products. Why? Because old tires are failing and killing people!
In a letter released September 22, 2003, a private safety group called Strategic Safety asked the National Highway Traffic & Safety Admin. (NHTSA) to investigate the problem of tire aging. The group says they have documented at least 20 accidents caused by old tires blowing out, 10 of which resulted in fatalities. Most of the lawsuits involving these tread separation accidents have been on tires that were six or more years old.
The group says the NHTSA should have a new rule requiring tire manufacturers to put expiration dates on all new tires.
REPLACE OLD TIRES
Strategic Safety says based on their findings, motorists should replace tires that are more than ten (10) years old, including ther spare tire.
(Note: In Europe, vehicle manufacturers typically recommend replacing tires that are more than six (6) years old.)
The group also says tire retailers should NOT sell tires that have been in storage for more than six years since the date of manufacture.
Tires deteriorate over time, even if they are not used or driven on. The tires may appear to be in like-new condition on the outside, but inside the rubber is slowly deteriorating. This may dangerously weaken the tire and increase the risk of a blowout at high speed or during hot weather.
In one such incident, the owner of a 1964 Sunbeam Tiger was returning from an antique car show. The tires only had 4,000 miles on them and looked good as new on the outside, but the tires were 11 years old. On the way home, one of the tires blew out causing the car to crash. The passenger suffered permanent brain injuries as a result of the accident.