We spend a lot of time picking out the tyre size and tread pattern on our 4WD tyres. Have you ever thought about their age though?
Tyres are seriously important. In reality, they are just bits of rubber, but they provide the traction you need for braking, steering and even going forward offroad.
Every tyre is stamped with a number that you can convert into a manufacturing date.
Why does tyre age matter?
Rubber deteriorates over time. You may have noticed brand new tyres tend to be quite soft and pliable. Touch a set that are more than a couple of years old though, and have been exposed to sunlight, and you will feel the rubber has gone hard. This reduces the traction it can offer, and also the strength that the tyre has to offer.
Once the rubber deteriorates enough, it will literally fall to pieces. If this happens when you are driving down the highway at 110km/h, you will know about it!
How can you tell how old tyres are?
Every tyre is stamped with a 4 digit code that you can convert into a date. The first two digits are the week of the year, and the second two are the year. For example, if it read 1810, it means the tyre was manufactured in the 18th week of 2010. When you are buying new tyres, it pays to check this, as some 4WD tyre suppliers will hold onto sets of tyres for a long time. This is not necessarily a game changer, but if they are more than a year or two old when you pick them up then you might want to ask for a newer set.
How old is too old?
Most tyre manufacturers say 5 years is the tipping point. If that seems pretty short, it is! If you did 15 - 20k a year, after 5 years you'd probably still have some tread left even if the tyres were brand new when you got them. The thing is, there is more to a tyre than age. If you had tyres that sat out in the sun all day every day, they would deteriorate much faster than a garaged vehicle. As far as I can tell, there are no legal requirements to replace your tyres after 5 years. That said, its a good idea to know how old they are, and do regular checks. If the tyres are getting hard and brittle, look for signs of cracking and damage.
Tyre's are seriously important; don't put your families lives at risk for the sack of getting a few more kays out of your set, but at the same time, don't be replacing them if they are still in good condition. Your tyre shop will be able to give you a better indication.