6 Ways to Tell It's Time for New Tires

tire identification number
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1. Age

Checking your tires’ expiration date is the first way to get an idea of their remaining lifespan. In general, you should expect a set of tires to last about six years. It’s possible for tires to last quite a bit longer than that, but according to Car & Driver, you shouldn’t push your rubber past the 10-year mark. That’s because rubber degrades over time due to environmental conditions, so tires that look like they’re in good shape on the surface could still be concealing structural damage. In other words, no matter how well you maintain or store your car, a 10-year-old tire is simply too old, even if it has seen just a few miles.

If you don’t remember when you bought your tires, or they came on a car you bought used, you can find out the manufacturer’s expected lifespan by looking up the make and model on the manufacturer’s website or on a tire store’s website. You can also find the 16-digit tire identification number, which is printed on the sidewall. The first three digits, DOT, represent the U.S. Department of Transportation. The last four digits reveal the tire’s age by showing the week and the last two digits of the year in which it was manufactured (for example, “1117” would mean the 11th week of 2017).

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