A Guide to Tyre Aging and Replacement

For many years, buyers have relied on tread depth to determine a tyre’s condition. However, rubber compounds gradually deteriorate, regardless of the shape the tread’s in, and old tyres can pose a severe safety hazard. While tyre age isn’t a concern for many (because tread wears out much faster than rubber compounds do), those who don’t drive their cars much could have problems. Here, you’ll learn more about the tyre aging process, and you’ll also find out why driving on old tyres is so dangerous.

What Happens to Tyres as They Age?

Old tyres can best be compared to worn-out, degraded rubber bands; they stretch and crack in the same ways. These cracks develop gradually, appearing on the surface and the inside of the tyre. Such cracks can cause the tread’s steel belts to separate from the remainder of the tyre, and heat or poor maintenance can hasten the process.

How Long do Tyres Last?

Automakers, rubber manufacturers and tyre makers have varying opinions on how long cheap tyres online will last. The Australian government has no firm guidelines on tyre aging, and they defer to manufacturers’ advice. Carmakers such as Mercedes Benz advise consumers to replace their tyres six years following the production date, irrespective of the tread condition. Certain tyre manufacturers, such as Michelin and Continental, say tyres can last for up to a decade as long as they’re inspected yearly after the five-year mark.

Heat and Its Effects on Tyre Wear

Research shows that tyres age more quickly in a warmer climate. Environmental factors such as climate and sunlight exposure can accelerate the aging process. Australia’s weather can be quite hot, and buyers should keep this in mind when determining whether to keep an old set of alloy wheels and tyres.

Storage

This applies equally to spares and tyres that sit in a shop or garage. If a spare is mounted to the underside of a 4WD, it’s constantly exposed to the elements. When tyres are stored in the trunk or in a hot garage, it’s like baking them in the oven, and even if a spare is never used, it’s considered to be ‘in service’ if it’s been mounted and inflated. When buying wheel and tyre packages, remember that tyres that haven’t been mounted will age more slowly than those that are in service—but they’ll age nonetheless.

Usage Conditions

This is a measure of how the tyres are treated. Are they properly inflated? Have you hit one too many kerbs with your Ford Ranger alloy wheels? If your car or 4WD is a weekend warrior, your tyres will age differently than on a daily highway driver. Proper upkeep is the best way to ensure long tyre life. Maintain proper air pressure, have your wheels and tyres rotated regularly, and get them inspected at least once per year.

Determining a Tyre’s Age

A tyre’s sidewall is chock-full of letters and numbers; all have meanings, but decoding them can be difficult. Generally, the first two numbers denote the week the tyre was made, and the second two list the year. If a tyre has a three-digit date code, the first two are the week of manufacture and the third is the decade in which they were made. It’s important to keep these numbers in mind when you’re at the installer’s shop and they ask you whether you want the raised lettering to face in.

After evaluating the tyre’s manufacturing date, give them a visual once-over. Check for aging signs such as distorted tread and sidewall cracks. If you notice a change in the tyres’ dynamic properties, or excessive vibration when you drive, it could mean that it’s time to check out new 4WD tyres prices.

Ensure You’re Buying Fresh Tyres

Just because tyres are unused, doesn’t mean they’re new. In some cases, consumers have bought new tyres online, only to find out that they were manufactured many years before. Along with a shorter lifespan, old but “new” tyres may be out of their warranty period. If you buy tyres from a 4WD store online and you find out they’re old, you can request a newer set; a reliable vendor of tyres and Ford Ranger accessories should be willing to make things right.

Learning to Let Go

Discarding an unused spare or a tyre with good tread can be a difficult thing for a budget-conscious driver to do. However, if the tyres are old, that’s just what you should do. While tyres don’t have a ‘sell by’ date, like a carton of milk, they should be closely inspected at and after the five-year mark. Of all the parts of a vehicle, tyres have the greatest effects on braking and handling. If a tyre shop recommends new tyres when you go in for an inspection, it’s best to get it done as soon as possible. After all, your life—and that of other motorists—may depend on it.