Recently our company founder took a tire off from one of his cars to have it checked for a slow leak. However, once he arrived at the tire store, he was informed that the tire was more than six years old, and that it could not be serviced. Huh?
If you haven’t had an older tire serviced recently, this is the scenario that will probably unfold if you do. Research has shown that after a certain amount of time passes, generally around six years, tire failures dramatically increase. The tire industry has not yet set up its own estimate, partly because it doesn’t want to give consumers the idea that its tires are guaranteed to last that long. Tire stores probably won’t risk the potential lawsuit that could result from an accident involving an older tire that they serviced.
This is not only a concern for your 1992 Corvette that’s still riding on its original tires, but also if you are considering purchasing “new” tires from an unknown seller. High Performance and Ultra High Performance tires may have a longer “shelf life” based on their high cost. If you are considering purchasing tires from an online auction site or trading forum, ask for pictures of the DOT markings on the tire’s sidewall.
If the tire was made before the year 2000, you’ll see three numbers after the DOT letters; the last number indicates the year the tire was made. On newer tires, those manufactured in 2000 or later, you’ll see four numbers. The first two numbers indicate the week it was built and the last two digits specify the year the tire was made. As an example, if you see a “295”, then the tire was made in 1995, or if you see a “3209”, the tire was made in the 32nd week of 2009.
If you are concerned about the age of the tires on your Corvette, call a reputable tire dealer. And get back on the road!