How to: Read Tire Date Codes

by Peter Hall

The condition of the tires on a car are what determines a car's capabilities in terms of acceleration, braking and cornering. The rubber on a car tire degrades over time, and tire warranties can be tied to manufacturing dates. Every tire sold in the United States has a date code stamped on it. The date code will let you know when tires need to be replaced.

Use a flashlight to find the Department of Transportation code on the tire. The DOT code starts with the letters "DOT" and is followed by 10, 11 or 12 letters or numbers.

Record the last four numbers of the DOT code.

Read the last two digits of the DOT code. The last two digits are the year of manufacture. If the last two digits are 07, for example, the tire was manufactured in 2007. The two digits before the year indicate the week of the year that the tires were manufactured. There are 52 weeks in a year, so these two digits range from 01 to 52.

Remove the tire or get under the car if the DOT code on the outer side wall of the tire is less than 10 characters long. The full DOT code is required to be only on one sidewall of each tire.

Tip

  • check Tires made before January 1, 2000, had a three-digit date code. The final character was the last number of the year, while the two characters before that indicated the week of the year. There was no indication of the decade, so there is no way to tell whether a tire was made in 1997 or 1977.

Warning

  • close Never get under a car supported only by a jack. The car could slip off the jack and injure you.

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About the Author

Peter Hall graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Arts in history and journalism in 2005. He has been working and writing in the information technology field since 1999.

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