- Car Care & Maintenance
Your Tires have Date Codes, learn how to buy New tires.
Tire Safety is too important to ignore
Most of us never think about the tires on our automobile or if you are a camper, on your RV, until they give you some kind of problem.
But, in case you didn't realize it, tires have a limited safe lifespan. You see, tires are made from a number of man-made compounds and also a natural ingredient called rubber.
And, tires deteriorate from the moment they are made.
That's right, as I mentioned, the materials in your tires are made including rubber, a natural component that, over time breaks down.
And, as they age, this weakens the tire's physical capabilities from the manufacturer's original design limits.
We all need to not only understand this fact about tires, but we also need to understand how to check just how old their tires might be.
Buying new Tires with a date code
Here's my story about learning how tire retailers can fool you, if you are not careful.
When we had left home, on a camping vacation, several months before, I already knew that I needed to get tires for the car we had left at home.
But I also knew that the car would be sitting in the garage for those months, so I decided to wait until we returned from our trip before purchasing replacement tires.
So, when we returned home, I fired up my PC, went to the local yellow pages, and conducted a search for local tire dealers, and eventually I had over twenty of them listed on the screen.
I broke out my pad of paper, pen and Cell Phone and began my search for the right tires at the right price.
Special Tires for a Special Car
I found out that my car is special. As a consumer, you can usually interpret that as; tires are expensive for my car.
For some unknown reason, my SUV requires high performance tires, with two different sizes for front and rear.
The front tires are 235/60R18 and the rear tires are 255/55/R18 tires.
They also have an "H" rating. This means that the vehicle is designed to do over 130-mph, thus it is required, by law, to use only "H" rated tires.
The third little fact about them is that they have air pressure sensors in the valve stems, so the vehicle computer can monitor the actual tire pressure and display it on a small data display on the dash.
These facts, all together, pushed the price of tires for my little Crossover SUV into the stratosphere.
Before I retired, I owned an American sports car for a few years, and I loved that car, and, at one point, I had to replace the tires on it. So I know what expensive tires cost, from experience.
Oh, by the way, that Sports Car COULD do 130-mph, and more, when called upon. And it also used "H" rated tires.
Anyway, I am usually a person who buys tires at discount clubs, but the ones I used wanted a total price of $1274.64 for their top-end tires. That price was "all inclusive" including; mounting, balancing, rotating, disposal fees, valve stem kit installation, and taxes.
I choked over that price and through necessity, I moved on to widen my search.
Well, after several more calls, I had prices from $905 to that $1200 price, all of which were all inclusive prices. Moss were the same top-end brand of tires, and there were other brands, but all were 50K-60k mile warranty, top-end manufacturers tires.
The $905 price was from a discount tire sales chain, and were the same top-end tires. So, I called them back and made an appointment to drop over and get their tires.
When I walked in, they wrote down my information, confirmed the price, and I asked them to repeat everything that was included, and I relaxed a little, thinking that all was well with the world.
Then the rep asked for my keys, just as I happened to be looking out their window where I saw a MotorHome pull into their parking lot.
Tire Covers protect against Sun damage
Probably the most important thing you can do for your RV or Car tires is use a good tire cover to protect against sun damage when the vehicle is not being used. I use this brand on my RV tires.
Check the tire date code before buying
And then a thought struck me. For your information, and as all RV owners know, tire manufacturers do not recommend that anyone drive on a tire that is over 5-6 years old.
Tires are made of combination's of synthetic and natural materials, and they actually begin to physically degrade from the moment they are manufactured, thus the recommended lifespan.
Tire Age and Environment are important
Of course, tires are essentially over-designed to still meet their original specs after 5-6 years, but after that it is anyone's guess when or if they will go bad.
Heat, Cold, the Sun ..... all of these variables can accelerate this tire degradation.
SO, I turned and asked the rep what was the manufacturers date code on the tires he was selling me.
That's when I saw that strange look come into his eyes, as he looked down for a moment, and then told me that he really didn't know.
I told him that I wanted new tires and he needed to check the tire date code, so he reluctantly went out to the back of their building.
He returned after a few minutes, and said that the date code said the tires were already three years old.
I slowly inhaled, counted to ten a couple of times, composed myself, and said to him:
That makes these NEW tires of yours 3-years-old. You do know that the manufacturers do not recommend tires even be used after 5 years ...... don't you?
Is the fact that the tires are so old, the real reason you are selling them so cheap?
His reply was: No Sir. We are selling them so cheap because we have so many of them.
I told him to check on his other inventory, and he reluctantly went to the back of the rear of the building as my "danger sensors "went up.
Great Tire Gauge for RV Owners
Those RV tires cost a lot of money and you must keep the air pressure set properly. I use this particular tire gauge myself because of the long flexible hose.
Cheap Tires should not be old tires
He returned after a couple of more minutes and told me that his whole inventory was dated the same, and he had almost 200 of them.
Then, and I loved this, he looked at me and defiantly asked me if I wanted them or not.
I almost exploded, but I controlled myself and explained to him again that I wasn't in the habit of buying degraded parts, at any price, and turned to leave.
I got halfway to the door, and he stopped me and asked if I would take a newer dated set of tires at the same price, if he could get them.
He went on to tell me that because the tires were slow movers, they would probably only be able to get tires dated one year old, at the newest, but he was willing to try for me.
I replied that I would accept tires dated one or less years old only; and he, to my surprise, agreed to call me back within two hours. And he stated that he was confident he would have the tires delivered within two days.
Of course, that call never came, and I went back to the phone the next morning and made more calls with my new requirement at the top of my list.
Needless to say, several other potential dealers fell from my list when asked about date codes.
I did finally end up with another pretty good turn-key price of $970, and a guarantee that the tires would have a date code of the present year.
Delivery was promised within a couple of days and I ended up getting my truly NEW tires for my car.
In Summary, Look out for those old Tires on the market.
My point here is, look carefully at that great tire price, if you care about the safety of yourself and your family.
And be sure you get a quote that is for NEW new tires, and not "OLD new" tires.
In my opinion, here is where a new consumer law is required, of some sort.
At the very least, tire quotes should include the dealer stating the manufacturers date code on any product where the date of manufacture is a safety matter for the consumer.
Have a Nice Day!
Tire Codes Defined for the Consumer
How to check your Tire Date Codes
© 2010 Don Bobbitt