How to tell the age of your 4WD tyres

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? How long do 4WD tyres last? Why does their age even matter?

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 off road. Ultimately, a little patch of rubber on four corners of your 4WD determines what happens to your vehicle!

Every tyre is stamped with a number that you can convert into a manufacturing date. This is one of 15 things you might not know about your 4WD.

4WD tyres
Keen to know the age of your tyres? You just have to read the code!
4x4 tyre age
Just because your tyres look good, doesn’t mean they aren’t old!

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!

4WD tyre condition
What condition are your tyres in?

How can you tell tyre age?

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.

This is hugely important when considering how much you are going to use them, and the tyre age limit.

Tyre age stamp
The little indented stamp refers to the 49th week of 2011

The other tyre numbers refer to size, inflation requirements and so forth.

How old is too old?

Most tyre manufacturers say 5 – 7 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.

There are no tyre age laws, or tyre age limits forcing you to replace your tyres after 5 years. There is no formal tyre expiry date in Australia though. 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.

4WD tyres are very important
Your tyres do a lot of important work

How long do tyres last?

Asides from age, you can go through tyres by wearing them out or getting irreparable punctures. Most 4WD tyres should do somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000km, but this will vary wildly depending on what terrain you are using them on, how you drive and how much your vehicle weighs. 

If you are regularly off road and get more than 50 – 60 thousand kilometres from your tyres you’ve probably done pretty well.

Our tyre reviews

If you are chasing non biased, real life tyre reviews we have a couple for you, starting with the Toyo Open Country AT2, and then the Bridgestone Dueler AT 697, and now we’ve moved to Toyo Open Country RT’s.

Overall, don’t push your tyre life. It’s simply not worth it, and we had a tyre blow out well within the 5 years.

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