Proper tire maintenance is something that every single driver on the road should know about it and practice.
Making sure your tread hasn’t worn down to dangerous levels, regularly checking your tire air pressure and keeping them all at the appropriate PSI requirements, even making sure that they don’t accumulate mud and dirt which can become pesky rust.
All of these are important practices to follow in order to get the best performance and longest life out of your tires, which is something you want to do, right?
Tires aren’t cheap, and when properly taken care of they can boost your vehicles performance in ways you might not think about.
Properly inflated tires increase your fuel efficiency giving your more miles to the gallon than if they were improperly inflated.
Tires with dangerously low levels of tread dramatically decrease the traction power they have and can lead to slip outs in snowy or wet conditions- and trust us it is not fun to hydroplane.
But something that not every one thinks about (until it may be too late, that is) just how old your tires are.
Sure, you bought them…not too long ago, right? It was maybe a few years. Alright more than a few…Just admit it, you probably don’t remember the specific year you bought your tires.
And worse than that, you probably have no idea when your tires were manufactured, and that can play a big part in how long you can expect them to perform at their best.
Don’t worry, we aren’t judging you (too hard) and because you’re here reading this article we assume that you’re actively trying to learn more about proper tire maintenance and knowledge.
Let us introduce you to the DOT code.
What Is The DOT Code?
The DOT code is one of the many, many pieces of information stamped on to the sidewall of any tire manufactured in the United States of America (the DOT is the U.S. Department of Transportation but we’ll return to who they are later.)
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to find because you’re looking for something that says “DOT,” followed by a string of numbers and letters following it.
The numbers and letters are codes for where the tire was manufactured and when the tire was manufactured.
How Do I Read A DOT Code?
The main numbers we’re going to be looking for for this article are the last four, these are going to tell us when the tire was made. They’re typically separated or even circled on some tires to make it even easier.
Lets say for example the numbers are:
We’re going to split these numbers in to two pairs, the first two being the week that the tire was manufactured and the second two being the year.
So the “25” tells us that these tires were built in the 25th week, and the 19 tells us that the year was 2019.
It does take a little math if you wanted to figure out exactly what month the tires were made, but you can also just type it in to Google for a much easier way to figure it out.
If you want an even easier route, just use this handy dandy website. All you have to do is punch in your four digits, and it will tell you what week your tire was manufactured and how old it is exactly. Saves you some math which is always appreciated in our world.
Why Do Tires Have A DOT Code?
While it’s recommended to replace your tires somewhere between six and ten years of being on the road, knowing how old they are even before you buy them can be very important.
If you bought tires that already had a few years on them sitting on the shelf, the tread would still be in great shape but the material within the tire, the rubber itself, would reflect that age.
That means you have to keep in mind a tires age as well as how many years it’s been driving on the road, because you might need to replace it early if it’s getting older.
What Is The DOT?
The DOT stands for the Department Of Transportation and they are a part of the United States Government.
The DOT’s mission statement is as follows:
“To ensure America has the safest, most efficient and modern transportation system in the world, which boosts our economic productivity and global competitiveness and enhances the quality of life in communities both rural and urban.”
That sounds nice, doesn’t it? Basically they’re the people in charge of setting rules and regulations that have the best interests and the safety of drivers across the country in mind.
While some people might argue over every decision the DOT makes (welcome to the world of politics and regulations,) the mandatorily stamped DOT code on every tire manufactured in the U.S. only serves to help drivers assure that the tires that they have are of the highest quality and within proper safety limits.
Why Is It Important To Know How Old My Tires Are?
As we’ve mentioned, when tires start to age they become very dangerous, potentially more so than you’re thinking now.
As tires reach close to ten years since their manufacturing date, regardless of how much road time they’ve seen, the rubber itself begins to deteriorate and crack.
Imagine an old rubber band if you’ve seen one, probably back in junior high when you were scouring the walls and floors for anything interesting to look at. (We know that wasn’t just us.)
The rubber band becomes rigid and begins to crack along its width as you pull it, and if it’s particularly old then it might even snap without too much pressure.
This is the same exact problem that tires begin to have- the rubber material within them becomes brittle and they start to crack and literally come apart.
How Long Can A Tire Last Then?
Like we said, it’s recommended that tires be replaced at least every six to ten years depending on tread wear and mileage. And that goes for tires on the car and sitting in storage.
Granted, if you have a dedicated pair of snow tires, like the Cooper Evolution Winters, that you switch out every season that only see a few months out of the year compared to your summer tires, those will last a bit longer.
But regardless of how much road your tires see, ten years should be their max life before really risking some serious danger.
Tips On Tire Life
First of all we would suggest staying away from used tires. Because they’re such an important part of your car you really want to be sure you know everything that the tires have been through. Have they been properly maintained and treated?
At RentAWheel.com we have a plethora of options for tires, anything from affordable but reliable all the way to high end performance models.
Other things like maintaining proper air pressure in your tires will extend their life as well (See we mentioned that was important!)
Tires that don’t have enough air will sag just enough under pressure and wear down the tread unevenly, which leads to rapid tread damage and thus shortens the lifespan of the tire.
On the other side of the coin tires that have too much pressure will actually bulge and put a majority of the weight onto the center line of the tire, which brings us right back to uneven tread wear.
Heat also plays a big role in tire life. Studies have shown that tires age much more rapidly in hotter climates compared to their colder counterparts. That goes for tires on the road and stored somewhere.
The DOT code is there to help drivers know exactly when their tires were manufactured, and knowing exactly how old your tires are are going to keep you out of a lot of trouble.
Making sure to properly take care of your tires is essential, they are literally the only things between you and your sweet ride and the fast, unforgiving pavement.
Keeping your tires at the suggested air pressure level, regularly checking the tread and confirming their age is going to keep you and your car ahead of the curve when it comes to safety.
And as we mentioned, we have a ton of options at Rent A Wheel for you to take a look at if you find yourself in need of a new set for your car.
Our professional tire technicians are ready and available to chat with you online at RentAWheel.com to help figure out exactly which tires are you going to suit you and your sweet ride perfectly. And with our flexible monthly payment plan options, tires don’t have to be a huge pressure on your wallet.
We want you to be comfortable and confident in your tires, and we want make the experience of buying them easy and affordable. We’ll even install tires that you buy from us for free at one of our several Rent A Wheel locations.
So keep an eye on your tires, and when it’s time to replace them, choose Rent A Wheel for the best deals on the best products.