Are Your Tyres Too Old? Tyre Wear and Ageing

by chris sanders on 26th June 2012

One of the things that car owners need to maintain is their car tyres. They need to take note of how old they are, how often the vehicle is used and what conditions they are exposed to. They must remember that tyres do not last forever and that they are a safety critical item that requires a certain degree of attention.

People cannot liken their car tyres to wine because tyres do not get better with age. In fact, old tyres can be detrimental to the car because they contribute to inefficient use of petrol, they have less traction on slippery roads and they pose a great danger to the driver.

Because of this, car tyres need to be properly maintained and they need to be replaced when they are no longer fit for purpose. Car owners should take note of the age of their tyres, their tyres’ tread depth and other tyre considerations to ensure road and vehicular safety.

Tyre Ageing

The car tyre and its structural integrity can and will degrade over time, this will happen if the vehicle is used regularly or not. Tyre ageing is the result of the chemical reaction of the rubber components inside the tyre. This reaction is hastened by sunlight and heat.

Tyres also become worn and as time goes by they lose their tread depth and their ability to grip the road in wet conditions. Old tyres can also develop cracks on the surface and its interiors. Once a tyre has cracks, the steel belts in the tread will eventually be affected which impacts the ability for the tyre to perform safely.

Determining the Age of the Tyre

All tyres are stamped with a code located at the sidewall that will help you determine the age of your tyre.  Tyres that are made from the year 2000 onwards have a four-digit code: the first two numbers stand for the week the tyres were made, while the last two digits stand for the year the tyres were made. For tyres that were manufactured before 2000, they have a three-digit code: the first two digits will tell you the week they were made, and the last digit will tell you what decade in the year they were made. Granted, these codes are not easy to read so if you are unsure about the age of your tyres, you can ask your local tyre expert.

Factors That Affect Tyre Wear and Age

Although there are no specific rules that determine tyre ageing, here are some factors that can affect the lifespan of your tyres:

  • Heat – heat is a major factor in tyre ageing because tyres age faster in hotter climates. Tyres that are constantly exposed to sunlight tend to age faster as well.
  • Conditions – this refers to the tyre maintenance and how the tyres are used. Tyres that will age faster are not properly inflated, also wheel alignment can negatively impact on tyre wear.
  • Storage – where the spare tyre is stored greatly affects its ageing. A spare tyre exposed to the elements will age faster than the one hidden inside the trunk or stored in a garage.

Car owners must keep their tyres properly maintained. Often, tyres wear out before they get really old so most tyre manufacturers recommend that you replace your tyres after six years even if it does not show evidence of wear yet. They need to remember that the maximum life of car tyres (including the used or unused spare tyre) is ten years.

Article written by Ericka who writes content for Capital Driver Training a Driving Instructor Based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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