LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Most everyone knows the dangers of having bald tires, with not much tread. But tires that have never even touched the asphalt can be dangerous as well. It all depends on how old the tires are, regardless of whether they have been used.
Often times people judge the safety of their tires based on the amount of tread that remains, but the age of the tires can also be indicative of their safety. In fact, some safety experts warn that tires should not be used after a certain amount of years, regardless of the tire's wear and tear. This is why knowing the exact age of your tires is important.
But be careful ... because some information and advertising that you see is confusing. In the tire world, "new" means it's never been driven on, it doesn't refer to the age of the tire. And some stores sell "new" tires that are actually up to six years old.
Parkway Automotive Owner Mike Davidson says he's seen it happen, which is why it's critical to look for the time stamp when tire shopping.
Every tire has one and they are simple to read; Davidson explains the process while looking at a tire's stamp.
"You see the numbers 1913," he explained. "That means this tire was manufactured on the 19th week of 2013."
Davidson says many places self regulate the tire inventory, but that there are instances in which tires tread time on store shelves. And while this is perfectly legal, Davidson calls it a hidden danger.
"When that tire gets six, seven years old, or greater, a lot of times you will begin to see some dry rotting," Davidson said.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records show the agency has been looking at the issue of tire aging for nearly a decade. Authorities there recommend not driving on tires over six years old.
"The thing that we need to be concerned about is the belt separating inside the tire and it's not something that most people would have the opportunity to see," Davidson said.
Recent reports show 90 deaths and more than 3,000 injuries were "probably caused by tire aging or where tire aging was a significant factor."
Doug Green at Dale's Used Tires in Little Rock has been in the tire business since the 1990's.Because they're used, tires are sold at a significant discount.
"If it's dangerous I personally won't put it on the car," Green said.
But when we told him that safety experts recommend a six-year age limit on tires, he said, "In today's economy, I mean, you just can't do that. You have to get as many miles out of your tires as you can."
Still he says you need to have your tires checked every 5,000 miles.
Green said, in addition to age, factors such as storage, use, and maintenance help determine the safety of a tire. Davidson recommends to start looking at the age of the tire, not just whether it has been on the road.
"If you just live life by the price of something, then you are running the risk of making the wrong decision" he said.
For more information, including Frequent Asked Questions, regarding tire aging and safety, click here: http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Shoppers/Tires/Tires+Rating/Tire+Aging