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How Old are your Tires? Your Safety may Depend on the Answer

Last updated by on March 16, 2016

How to Determine the Age of your Tires

Have you ever asked yourself, “how old are my tires?”. If not – you should. Determining your tire age is very important to you and your family’s safety. If you’re driving with a tire over six years old, you could be putting yourself in danger, as tires dry rot with age from the inside out.

“These Tires Have a Few Good Years Left in Them”

I used to think, “the tread looks great, no bald or worn out spots, these things could last at least a couple more years”. They may last another three years, but your tread has little to do with it. What is more essential is the age of the tire. Tire’s are made of rubber, obviously, and when rubber gets old, it starts to dry and crack (often times from the inside out. This process is not always visible to the naked eye.

What’s more important than the thickness of the tread is the date that the tires were manufactured. Until last week I had no idea that the age of the tire mattered, I thought it was all in the tread and visible cracking. I also had no idea that tires have a manufacture date stamped on them. But the manufacturers don’t make it easy on you to figure this out.

It turns out that tires have cryptic codes on them. Believe it or not, you can actually determine your tire’s manufacture date based on these codes.

How to Determine your Tire Age

Let’s discuss pre and post 2000 tire manufacturing date stamps (if your tire is older than this as indicated by a lack of this standard, you’ll want to have it replaced immediately). has a great demonstration on how you can determine your tire’s ages:

Tires Manufacture Date After 2000

Since 2000, the week and year the tire was produced has been provided by the last four digits of the Tire Identification Number with the 2 digits being used to identify the week immediately preceding the 2 digits used to identify the year.

Example of a tire manufactured since 2000 with the current Tire Identification Number format:

tire age

DOT U2LL LMLR 5107 Manufactured during the 51st week of the year, in 2007

While the entire Tire Identification Number is required to be branded onto one sidewall of every tire, current regulations also require that DOT and the first digits of the Tire Identification Number must also be branded onto the opposite sidewall. Therefore, it is possible to see a Tire Identification Number that appears incomplete and requires looking at the tire’s other sidewall to find the entire Tire Identification Number

age of tires

The use of a partial Tire Identification Number on the one sidewall (shown above) reduces the risk of injury to the mold technician that would have to install the weekly date code on the top sidewall portion of a hot tire mold.

Tire Manufacture Date Before 2000

The Tire Identification Number for tires produced prior to 2000 was based on the assumption that tires would not be in service for ten years. While they were required to provided the same information as today’s tires, the week and year the tire was produced was contained in the last three digits. The 2 digits used to identify the week a tire was manufactured immediately preceded a single digit used to identify the year. If you’re driving on a tire with this format, it’s time to retire it.

Example of a tire manufactured before 2000 with the earlier Tire Identification Number format:

tire manufacture date

DOT EJ8J DFM 408 Manufactured during the 40th week of the year, during the 8th year of the decade

While the previous Tire Identification Number format identified that a tire was built in the 8th year of a decade, there was no universal identifier that confirmed which decade (tires produced in the 1990s may have a small triangle following the Tire Identification Number to identify the decade).

And finally, hold on to your sales receipt. Most tire manufacturer’s warranties cover their tires for four years from the date of purchase or five years from the week the tires were manufactured. So if you purchase new tires that were manufactured exactly two years ago they will be covered for a total of six years (four years from the date of purchase) as long as you have your receipt. If you lose your receipt, your tires’ warranty coverage will end five years from the week the tire was produced (resulting in the tire manufacturer’s warranty coverage ending only three years from the date of purchase in this example).

Will My Set of Four Tires All be the Same Age?

Another thing to note when getting new tires or checking your old is that all four tires will most likely not be the exact same age. On a previous set of tires I purchased, I found that three of my new tires were made in the second week of 2008, while the fourth was made in the 21st week. Had any of my tires been manufactured more than a year prior to my date of purchase, I would have taken them back immediately and demanded a refund. When checking the age of your tires, check all four tires.

My Tires Don’t have a Code on Them!

If you do not see a manufacturing code on your tire, grab a flashlight and slide underneath your car to check the other side. Tire manufacturers want to make it as hard as possible for you to determine your tire’s age, so they’ve inconveniently placed the manufacture date on only one side of your tires.

Why Do Tire Companies Hide the Tires Manufacture Date?

Because they can and it’s profitable to. In many other countries, government works for consumers a little harder on their rights. In the good ole’ USA, big business lobbies against consumer rights and quite often wins. Why would the big tire manufactures want to pull their tires off the shelf to be destroyed?

Take a peek at this very informative video from ABC’s 20/20, in which a hidden video camera was used in tire stores. Some retailers were helpful and informed, others not so much. Some retailers were selling tires as old as 12 years! You have to wonder how much of this is corporate mandate versus ignorance.

It pays to be an informed consumer, both in terms of finance and safety. If you’ve bought old tires recently, hopefully you have save your receipts. Go back to the place you purchased from and see if they’ll swap newly manufactured tires (or demand it). If that doesn’t work, you should at least be able to get a credit towards new tires.

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I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Ralph C says:

    Lots of what is said here is wrong. Tire manufacturers do want to sell new tires so they would be happy for you to know your tires are out of date.
    The seller of the tires might want to hide the date to sell old tires but the manufacturer (who stamps the tire) has no benefit hiding the stamp. They are stamped on only one side as a safety issue for the guy stamping the hot tire when it is made.

  • Enyinnaya Jubilant says:

    I am strongly opposed to most of the information as contained in the subject write-up. They are wrong and misleading. (1)The date of manufacture stamped on tires are essentially to enable tire manufacturers track warranty expiration periods. No individual manufacturer have come out with a specific tire expiration date or period. This is similar to vehicle manufacturers’ warranty which for Toyota (in Nigeria)is 36 Months from date of purchase or 100,000km which ever comes first. Does this mean that owners of such vehicles should considered them as expired. what happens to new tires held on shelves by dealers or tire purchased but not used for some years? (2) Yes, tires are polymer (rubber) product and the only recommended way to ascertain their condition is through constant visual inspection; checking for cracks in-between threads, pilings, cuts etc. Please tell us what other test a vehicle owner need to conduct on his tires regularly.

    Two weeks is too small for you to know enough on tire manufacturing details and be competent to educate others online. All your details are from Do not depend on one site in order to educate other. Always expand your search for knowledge.

  • dtgurl says:

    I’m willing to bet that both of you would never put “old” tires on your vehicle or on one for your love ones. I’m also betting that you both do business with tire companies in some way. I believe tire manufacturers would not put date codes on tires if it was not regulated. I’s all about the dollar in your pockets not safety. My cousins husband had a “old” tire explode while adding air and it literally blew his head off. He had just purchased them.Our family will never recover.

  • Nikki Ham says:

    I wanted to surprise my husband w tires he wanted for his Trans am . They were pricey but I found them on ebay within my budget . When the tires arrived he informed me that they were 4 years old . So now I have to save up again because my husband is my everything . All I am saying is beware of what u buy on eBay and ask questions .

  • Lavarock7 says:

    Interesting that people seem to be against having these dates on tires, to which your life depends, yet will be the first to check the expiration date or manufacturing date of milk.


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