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Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’?

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, May 30, 2008 7:04 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Dangerous Products, Auto Safety, Defective and Dangerous Products, Motor Vehicle Accidents

The age of a tire cannot always be seen on the surface, making tires older than six years risky.

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 IMAGE SOURCE:  tires in the forest/ author: Mysid 

 

Countless thousands of Americans may be driving on tires prone to fall apart, especially in hot climates and at high speeds, due to a widely unknown danger—the age of tire.

Just last year, a government report prepared by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that 84% of crashes caused by tires, involved tires more than six years old. 

Auto safety experts now say 140 crashes, some of them fatal, have been reported and many others go unreported. 

The danger can be present not only with old tires still in service on older cars but even with spare tires that look perfectly safe and have never been on the ground.  

In San Francisco, one vehicle owner reports that his 2006 Saturn came new from the factory with tires that were nearly seven years old. He says he verified this by checking the date code on the tires after seeing a report about the potential danger. 

The manufacture date of tires in stamped with a code, sometimes difficult to see on the inside when the wheel is on the car.  The code generally begins with the letters DOT, followed by additional letters or a string of numbers. 

To decipher the code: the first two letters or numbers identify the plant where the tire was made.  The last four numbers are the date the tire was actually produced.  For instance, if the last four numbers read 1406, for instance, the tire was produced the 14th week of 2006.  

Several automakers warn about the potential danger of old tires in vehicle owner’s manuals.  Many typically suggest replacing any tire more than six years old, including the spare. 

Safety Research & Strategies, a consulting firm which studies safety issues, reports there are 30 million used tires sold every year. Consumers should avoid them because it's difficult to tell how a tire has aged internally. 

For at least five years, safety advocates have been calling on the government to study the dangers posed by aging tires that can degrade and rot from the inside out even when stored and never mounted on a car.   

In one case reported by Larry Carley in an article titled, Watch Out For Old Tires,  an antique car buff, driving his 1964 Sunbeam Tiger home from a show, suffered permanent brain injuries in a crash linked to his 11-year-old tires. 

Even though the tires had only 4,000 miles on them, plenty of tread, and looked like new, Carley reports they suddenly blew on the way home causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. 

Consumer organizations like the Safety Research & Strategies, want the tire manufacturers to stamp an expiration date on tires as a guideline. 

Until a court last year ordered data on tire failures to be released to the public, tire makers and the government claimed the information was kept secret because such reports were not subject to the Freedom of Information Law.  # 


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