Having to replace your tires is a given for any vehicle owner. A common question that comes up is regarding how old tires should be when you purchase them.
New tires should not be older than 18 months old when you buy them. After that time frame, the integrity of the tire will start to degrade. Be sure to ask the tire shop or seller how old the replacement tire is before you purchase it.
Table of Contents
- Why Does the Age of the Tire Matter?
- How to Age a Tire
- Selling/Buying a Tire
- What to Look for When Buying a New Tire
Why Does the Age of the Tire Matter?
As with most other materials, rubber degrades with age. So, buying a new tire that is past its prime means you risk a multitude of issues.
Old and Used
Tires that have been used and salvaged from previous cars need special attention before installing them. The most notable issue is the tread. If it came off a high mileage vehicle, the tread may be worn down.
An old tire that is worn down is not one that you want on your vehicle. Not only is it prone to blowing out, but if the tread is severely affected, you could have issues with traction.
This means that if you find yourself on a particularly slick stretch of road, usually due to weather conditions, you will be sliding around. This is a dangerous downfall of used tires. You want any newly installed tires to have at least 8mm of thickness for optimal safety.
Old and Not Used
Even tires that have never been used have a shelf life. The tread may look great and the tire itself may look in pristine condition, but it’s still important to ask about the age of the tire.
Rubber can break down due to heat, humidity, and just general exposure to air. Rubber that breaks down over time is subjected to “dry-rotting”. If the tire develops cracks between the tread and on the sidewall, it’s considered dry-rotted.
Tires that are older than 18 months old can house potential problems. Even unused, rubber can be subjected to rot and cracking. This can lead to a potential blowout while you are driving, which nobody wants!
How to Age a Tire
Almost every tire is labeled with a manufacturing date. On the outside edge, called the sidewall, you will see a set of raised numbers.
The last four numbers in this set will show you the week (sometimes the month) the tire was made and following that it will show you the year. You should also take time to check the tread.
Checking the Tread of a Tire
While it’s possible to check tread depth by purchasing a depth gauge from your local automotive store, you can check it on your own using “The Penny Test”.
Simply take a penny and make sure Lincoln’s head is facing you. Insert it into the tread and if the tread doesn’t reach Lincoln’s head at all, the tire does not have enough tread.
If it’s halfway through Lincoln’s head, there is still some tread on the tires but you may need to replace the tire within the next six months.
If it fully covers Licoln’s head, it’s a fairly new tire with little use. Just be sure to check the date of production.
Selling/Buying a Tire
Whether you are buying a tire from a shop or you are selling the tire yourself, there’s a few things you should pay attention to and a few “unspoken rules” that should be followed.
When is a Tire too Old to Sell?
If you have a set of tires you are wanting to sell, you should pay attention to their age. It’s not advised to sell tires that are older than 18 months old because your buyer may be at risk.
If you do have tires you are selling past their shelf-life, be sure to inform your buyer so that they understand they may need to replace them soon.
How Old Should New Tires be When You Buy Them?
If you are buying tires from a shop or a seller, check the date on the sidewall using the method above. If the date is older than 18 months, you should pass on purchasing the tires and instead ask for something newer.
Can I Buy/Sell Tires Older than 1 Year Old?
If a tire is just over 1 year old, it should be safe to purchase or sell given the tread looks good. Use the penny test mentioned above to check the tread and also check the manufacturing date to make sure you have a tire that has been made within the last 18 months.
What to Look for When Buying a New Tire
You should always be conscientious about a few things when you decide to buy a new tire.
The Mileage of the Tire
Every tire has a mileage rating, usually anywhere between 25,000 to 65,000 miles. Be sure to ask the seller about how many miles have been put on the tire or tires you are wanting to purchase.
Sometimes tire shops and dealers will have a few miles on their tires because of testing. This is normal so don’t worry too much if your “new” tires have 100 or so miles on them.
The Wear of the Tire
If you notice the tire you want to purchase is worn more on one side (or more in the middle), it could signal a problem. When tires are aligned and balanced properly, they should wear evenly across the entire tire.
If you see uneven wear, consider looking at a different tire or just buying new, unused tires instead.
Of all the parts on your vehicle, tires are within the top 5 in terms of importance. You don’t want to cut corners or you could find yourself on the side of the road having to call a tow truck!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions from any shop or seller you buy tires from, it could mean the difference between a smooth ride and a ride to the tow yard.