How Old is Too Old for Your Tires?

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As people prepare to rush out of town for the holidays, many are rushing to make sure their cars and trucks are in tip top shape.

"With people travelling for the holidays, usually the week before the holiday always turns out to be a busy week," said Lupe Ostiguin Jr., owner of Dixie Tire in Bryan.

But should tire shops be busier? The National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration is currently conducting tests on older tires and how age affects their performance. There is currently no federal regulation on how old tires can be.

"On an average, five years is usually a good time to replace tires," said Ostiguin. "Again, even if they look like they're new, if they've been on there for about five years, maybe it's a good time to replace them."

There's actually a very easy way to find out the age of your tire, and not too many people know about it. Just look on the side of the tire and you'll see a serial number preceded by the initials DOT for Department of Transportation. Look at the last four digits to find out when the tire was made.

For example, if the last four are "0504," the tire was made in the fifth week of 2004. If the last four are "3503," that tire was finished in the 35th week of 2003.

"With older tires, they can tend to separate," said Ostiguin. "As they heat up, especially on long trips, the tire will heat up, continue to build heat at that point, and separate if the tire is aged."

Ostiguin also says checking your tires' pressure is equally as important.

Some may think they're riding safe if the tire doesn't look worn or torn, but new tires at that five year mark are your safest bet, but one investment in four new wheels could be something to be thankful for.