WALB Investigates: Dangerous tires

WALB Investigates: Dangerous tires

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Do you know how old your tires are?

Not how long they've been on your car, or how many miles you've driven on them, but how long ago they were made?

Safety advocates say old tires are more likely to rip apart while you're driving down the road.

Albany General Tire Service has been selling, changing, and fixing tires for 59 years.

Owner Millie Page says drivers need to check air pressure often, monitor tread wear, and rotate tires regularly.

But it's important to remember the age of tires is also a factor in tire safety.

"Generally, if it's six years or older, we do recommend replacing your tires," Page said.

In a round of questions, drivers asked how old their tires were could not tell what the exact age of theirs were.

But there is a way to tell how old a tire is.

Right next to the DOT identification number on every tire, is a production date code.

But there's a catch- it only has to be on one side of the tire, which could be mounted where you can't see the number.

The first two digits represent which week the tire came off the production line. The last two show the year.

"This was made the 25th week of 2014," Page explained while pointing to a tire.

At the very least, Safety Institute Founder Sean Kane says the government should require a clearer date and do more to educate the public and tire technicians about tire aging.

"The federal government for its part has enabled this problem to continue," said Kane.

From 2005 to 2007, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documented 90 deaths and 3200 injuries in wrecks caused by aged tires.

"The government has validated it's a problem. The industry knows it's a problem. Consumers still don't know it's a problem," Kane explained.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association said those statistics refer to chemical and mechanical aging caused by heat, wear and tear, and improper maintenance, but not actual age.

Dan Zielinski, who is a Senior Vice President of the association argues the data just isn't there.

"There is no data to support that chronological age is a factor in tire safety performance," he said.

MORE: Simple steps drivers can take for tire safety

During the investigation, some drivers were shocked to see just how old their tires really were, and expressed their surprise like this:

"So, this tire was actually made in April 2003."

"Wow, I didn't know that."

"You had no idea that tire was that old?"

"No I had no idea."

Nikki Fitzgerald, who recently bought used tires, said she would have made a different choice if she knew how old the tires were.

"So that's six years old. Did you have any idea they were that old?"

Kane said even if an old tire looks fine, even if it's never been on the road, it can be dangerous.

The rubber degrades over time, especially in a hot climate like South Georgia, and that puts the tire at risk.

"You can get a catastrophic tread belt separation," said Kane.

Millie Page says, drivers who don't know how old their tires are, need to find out.

It's one tool that can help keep you from driving on dangerous tires.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not have a requirement for how old tires may be when they are sold or when they should be replaced.

NHTSA recommends you follow your car and tire makers' recommendations.

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting a tire safety study that could result in new recommendations for NHTSA and the tire industry in 2015.

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