Driving Hazard: Aged tires leads to safety risks on Colorado roads

Denver - Buying “new" tires does not guarantee they were recently manufactured. In Colorado, consumers buying "new" tires may not realize their tires could have been manufactured years earlier -- and those aged tires could lead to major safety risks on the roads.

A CALL7 Investigation found 252 incidents, 233 fatalities, and 300 injuries across the country over the last 20 years -- all involving tires that were more than six years old.

Marcia Simmons bought tires for her Mazda Miata two years ago from Meadow Creek Tire in Frisco. According to the receipt the tires she purchased were new, but when she went to Discount Tire for routine maintenance last month she learned that her tires weren't just a couple of years old -- they were 11 and 12 years old.

"I thought they were new," Simmons explained. "That's what the invoice said."

Simmons did not know "new" could mean her tires were nearly a decade old at the time of purchase. Many consumers rarely ask about the age of tires at the time of purchase nor do they know how to check the age of their tire.

"We know about how to check food for that sort of thing, but nobody knew how to check their tires to know how old they were," Simmons explained.

Simmons, like many others, had no idea every tire is imprinted with a set of numbers corresponding to the week and year the tire was manufactured. For example, "DOT 0402" would indicate that tire was manufactured during the fourth week of 2002.

Meadow Creek Tire owner Gary Bergman, who sold Simmons her tires two years ago, has sold tires for 40 years.

"We would not sell that tire if we considered it unsafe," Bergman told CALL7 Investigator Keli Rabon.

He said storage is the key to making tires last. "It's still a brand new tire if it's never been used. Stored correctly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the tire," said Bergman.

In a June 2013 advisory, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said aging tires are a concern because "they're more prone to failure." The advisory explained, "any rubber begins to break down over time" and "tires age whether they're driven on or not."

Bergman assured Rabon the sale of aged tires is not a problem. If it was, he said, "We would have a law that says you can't."

Currently, no state or federal laws prohibits the sale of aging tires. However, many vehicle and tire manufacturers recommend replacing tires over six years old regardless of use.

Vehicle manufacturers such as Porsche warn, "Under no circumstances should tires older than six years be used on your Porsche."

Ford does the same; even recommending drivers replace their spare tires when purchasing new road tires or "... after six years due to aging after years even if it has not been used." General Motors and Chrysler are also among the vehicle manufactures that warn drivers about the importance of tire age.

Michelin's tire guideline states, "It is recommended that any tires in service 10 years or more from the date of manufacture, including spare tires, be replaced with new tires as a simple precaution, even if such tires appear serviceable and even if they have not reached the legal wear limit." Tire manufacturers, Bridgestone Firestone and Continental maintain similar recommendations.

Bergman argued expiration dates for tires are not the solution to safer Colorado roads. Instead, he suggested Colorado require annual tire safety inspections to check for things like worn tread, air pressure and alignment.

"It's time for consumers to speak up and say we need to be protected," said Simmons. Since learning about the safety risks of aged tires, Simmons told her neighbors to check the age of their tires, and even contacted her legislator asking for changes to be made to Colorado law regarding the sale of aging tires.


If you have a news tip or follow-up to this story, e-mail Keli Rabon. You can also connect with me on Facebook or through Twitter @KeliRabon.

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