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How to Check What Year Your Tires Were Made

by Jody L. Campbell

Since 2000, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have mandated manufacturing dates on all tires. Because the rubber composition of a tire can break down after time, even when it's not in use, this policy helps protect consumers from purchasing old tires that may fail under duress due to age. Learning this simple procedure will help you determine the age of the tires you're purchasing before you buy them, and it will also help you determine the age of the tires on your vehicle now.

Locate the full DOT tire number on the sidewall of the tire. This number will be between 10 to 12 digits long. If you are determining the age of a tire that's already on your vehicle, check the inside sidewall. If necessary, turn the steering wheel all the way in one direction and drive forward until you can locate and read the DOT number.

Find the last four digits of the DOT number. In most cases, it is separated from the other six to eight digits and stamped in an inset-capsule-shaped oval on the sidewall of the tire.

Read the last four digits to determine the week of the year and the actual year the tire was manufactured. For example, a tire with the last four digits "3609" would inform you that the tire was manufactured in the 36th week of the year 2009. A tire displaying the date code "1210" would inform you the tires were manufactured in the 12th week of 2010.

Inspect each tire (moving the vehicle if necessary or applicable) to educate yourself on the age of the other tires on the vehicle.

Tips

  • Although tires do not have expiration dates, if they're more than a couple years old, their shelf-life and performance will suffer.
  • Because tires mounted on a vehicle are exposed to the elements, it will not take long for them to begin to dry-rot in hot, sunny regions or crack from extreme cold and harsh conditions.
  • Always check the date stamps of tires before purchasing them and inspect the sidewalls of the tires on your car (after determining the age) for sidewall cracks around the lettering. This is a telltale sign of rubber deterioration and can become a safety issue on the roads traveling.

About the Author

Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.

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