With the holidays fast approaching, many of you will be heading out to visit family and friends. Before starting on a trip, many people will get the oil checked in their cars. Some will even have mechanical and safety inspections done on the vehicles. These are things normally done before traveling. Those inspections will include having the air pressure checked in your tires and visually inspecting the tire tread wear. So, if there are not many miles on a particular tire, and the treads are not worn, and the tire appears new, it should be OK to drive on those tires, right? Not necessarily.
One of the most important problems facing drivers is aging tires. Tire aging is one of those hidden hazards that we don’t even think about until it is too late. When you purchase your car and it comes with a spare, or if you purchase a new set of tires and a spare, the spare is usually of the same age as the tires that you place into service on your car. So, as you use your tires for a few years, they age. How about that “brand new” spare tire in the back? It looks brand new doesn’t it? But it is really just as old as the other tires on your car. So, if you have a flat and replace that flat with the spare, that spare is not new. It is just as old as the tire you replaced.
Tires are usually made of rubber (real or synthetic), and all rubber products deteriorate with age, even if they are not actually being used. So, the spare tire has been deteriorating in the back of your car while it was not in use. The components of an aging tire can dry out, the rubber can deteriorate, and the adhesion between the tire parts can break down. So, the components of the tire that were once fused together properly can break apart while the vehicle is in motion. Unfortunately, this can happen while you are driving on that spare tire at highway speeds and result in serious and even fatal accidents. For safety sake, replace your tires, even the spare, regularly and do not use a tire that you know is old, even if it does not appear to be worn.
All tires have DOT identification numbers on them. The last three or four digits of those numbers can help you figure out the age of the tire. The first two numbers are the week the tire was manufactured and the last two digits (or just the last digit for tires made in 1999 or earlier) show the year. Most tire manufacturers recommend that tires not be in service after six years. So, even if a tire has never been placed into service on a vehicle, still looks new, and has no tread wear, it should not be used on your car because it could be an accident waiting to happen. So, a “new” tire sitting in a warehouse for six or more years should not be sold for use on your vehicle.
If you, or someone you know, have been the victim of an age-related tire failure, you may have a products liability claim against the tire’s manufacturer, seller, or even the car company that used the tires on its vehicles. If you would like more information or have a question, you can contact Greg Allen (Greg.Allen@beasleyallen.com) or Cole Portis (Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com) in our office at 800-898-2034.
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