When to buy new car tires based on tire age

Consumer Reports News: May 12, 2009 01:25 PM

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At a recent tire conference, an engineer from a major tire company was remarking on tire aging and the fact that tire age restrictions apply to tires in-service. That caught my attention, because some automobile and tire manufactures say unused tires six years or older should not be put into service. What did he mean by that?

The key words were “in-service” refer to any tire mounted on a wheel and inflated. So, even a spare tire sitting in the trunk of a car is in-service. The illuminating aspect of the discussion was if a tire is properly stored and not mounted on a wheel, it will not age appreciably.

So what does that mean for you when it comes to purchasing new tires? Should you accept whatever age new tires are available? Our take is still the same as before: purchase the newest tires possible – find ones that are no more than a couple of years old. Why take a risk without the knowledge of knowing how a tire might have been stored? Again, we think you should follow the recommendations of the automobile manufacturer if available. And certainly remove any tires that are 10 years old or older.

The tire aging recommendations are a best practice to follow. Tire aging is not based on a chronological order alone. Other factors affect tire aging including the material properties of the tire and heat, which is a key variable that ages tires. If you live in a warm climate, run on overloaded or underinflated tires, or drive at sustained high speeds, the heat generated from any or all of these conditions can cause a tire to age more rapidly.

Our advice: Replace the tires by the automobile and tire manufacturer recommendations. (Chrysler, Ford, and Volkswagen are just a few of the companies that recommend removing tires older than six years.)

Adhering to proper maintenance can help a tire maintain its youthful life and protect yours.

Read “Help keep your vehicle's tires safe.”

Before buying, be sure to consult our car, truck, and winter tire ratings and buying advice.

--Gene Petersen


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