How Old Should New Tires be When You Buy Them?

When you buy tires, it’s not unusual to come across a pair that’s more or less over a year old. 

But how old should new tires be when you buy them for your vehicle? And when should you decide that these tires are too old and you should consider an alternative?

As per the President of Safety Research & Strategies Inc., tires over six years old caused 233 fatal accidents in 2012.

So in today’s article, we’ll address all these questions and more concerns about choosing to buy old tires. 

Why Are Older Tires Considered Bad?

Now there’s an obvious alarm that old tires will lack in quality and functionality. That’s because the older a tire gets, the more its rubber deteriorates.

And this breakdown occurs even if the tire isn’t being used! 

That’s because various factors cause a tire to decompose, mainly exposed to oxygen, light, and heat. So even if tire shops store their brand new tires in a temperature-controlled and dark area, it won’t stop the deterioration process since there’s still oxygen in the atmosphere!

But the main question is: how does this breakdown affect tire quality?

As the tire’s rubber compound breaks down, the tread starts to wear off, which significantly increases the driver’s chances of losing control of the vehicle and the tire blowing out. 

Also, cracks begin to appear in the tire’s rubber, both on the surface and within the tire. These cracks ultimately cause the steel belts within the tread to detach from the rest of the tire. And as mentioned, exposure to heat accelerates this process.

How Old is Too Old for A New Tire?

As mentioned earlier, tires older than at least six years potentially increase the risk of a fatal accident. And unfortunately, there aren’t any regulations preventing stores from selling these old tires – it is legal.

That’s why it’s extremely important to carefully inspect the tires you are buying for your vehicle, or you might end up getting dangerous tires that will need replacing a few days or weeks later!

Here’s a tip: the fine print on most tire treadwear warranties states the mileage limit and how old they are. 

But if you buy an old tire and find this out later, you can’t do much about it.

So, as a rule of thumb, and for your safety, you shouldn’t buy tires that are older than 18 months.

How To Tell How Old New Tires Are?

Even though you can’t always trust tire sellers, there’s still hope for you when you buy tires for your car.

Tire Manufacturing Date

Tire manufacturers are required to print the date of manufacture on their tires, even the exact week. This date is generally printed on the tire’s sidewall, but if you aren’t aware of it, you probably won’t find it.

But don’t worry; we’re here to help. 

Tires manufactured after 2000 have a four-digit DOT code. In addition, you will see many circled blocks on the tire’s sidewall. These blocks have different numbers and letters inside them.

Look for a circled block with four numbers inside it.

If you can’t find it, look for a circled block with a ‘DOT’ on it – the correct block is usually around this area.

Once you locate it, start by reading the initial two numbers. They represent the week of manufacture of the tire.

Then look at the last two numbers; they are the last two digits of the manufacturing year.

Here’s an example: if the number is 4708, it means the tire was manufactured in the 47th week of 2008.

Is it Safe to Buy Old New Tires?

A major factor in determining the safety of old new tires and how long they will last is the environment that they are exposed to.

For instance, if you reside in a warmer climate and don’t pay attention to the maintenance of your tires, they are bound to wear out quicker.

Hence it’s very important to keep the tires fully inflated throughout the year.

In terms of years, three-year-old new tires are considered safe.

However, that doesn’t give you the green signal to buy them since, after another three years, you’ll eventually need to replace these tires due to significant safety concerns. 

Bottom line: when buying an old new tire, you can’t be sure of how well it was maintained and the conditions it was kept in.

You can determine its age as described above, but it’s an option better to avoid it completely.

Does an Unused New Set of Tires Become Unsafe on the Road?

Unused new tires can last for about 6 to 10 years, depending on how well they were stored and the environmental conditions they were kept in.

Broadly speaking, the age limit for stored tires is more or less the same as for used tires.

However, official manufactures and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claim that a tire can only be considered 100 percent safe to use till it turns 5 to 6 years old. 

However, if checked regularly for issues after the 5th year, unused tires can be deemed safe to use for up to 10 years.

How Old Should New Tires Be When Installed?

Most tires are less than a year old when they arrive at a shop. And the rubber compound immediately starts to deteriorate when they trundle off the manufacturer’s assembly line.

So as mentioned before, a tire must not be older than 18 months when you buy it for your vehicle.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, there is no protection or warning for customers purchasing an old new tire. So the best option to stay safe is to always check the tires’ age before buying it.

Also, remember to always check each tire individually – just because a single tire is newer doesn’t guarantee that all four will be as well!


Dean Alvarez, TireForge Head Author

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