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Tire Safety

Many of us don’t think twice about the condition of our tires when we step foot into our vehicles and start the engine. As consumers, we trust that tire manufacturers design and create tires and tire parts that are safe and free of any defect that could cause us harm. However, tire companies and auto makers may not properly warn of the potential dangers caused by aged tires. This is why all motorists must take it upon themselves to learn more about tire safety, tire aging, and how to determine the age of their tires.

Tire Aging

Despite what most people think, a tire begins to age the day it is manufactured. Even though the design of a tire can influence how quickly or slowly it ages, the very materials that make up a tire cause it to experience thermo-oxidative degradation. This type of degradation happens when the tire is weakened as oxygen interacts with the rubber.

Extreme heat has been linked to faster tire degradation, increasing the chances that a tire will fail and lead to a crash. One of the most frightening things about this is that the outer layer of the tire, the tread, can still look perfectly new even when the tire has become less efficient from degradation. Tire tread separation takes place when this outer layer tears off the tire, causing a motorist to typically lose control of the vehicle.

Tires can deteriorate with age even if they are not being used, which is important to consider if you’ve had a spare tire stored in your vehicle for several years. One trick in determining whether your tire is worn is to grab a penny and place it upside down into a groove along the tread. The tread is considered to be too worn if you can see Lincoln’s head. Some motorists may also want to use a special gauge to check the tread. In any case, finding out the exact age of your tires plays a major role in determining whether it’s time to buy new tires.

How to Determine the Age of Your Tires

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation require tire manufacturers to properly label tires in a very precise way that contains a wide range of information. However, this data can be confusing and difficult to understand if you don’t know how to break down a tire’s identification number.

A Tire Identification Number (TIN) is a grouping of letters and numbers reflecting where and when a tire was made. A TIN is typically located on the sidewall of a tire and usually looks similar to this: “DOT MA L8 EFG 0609”. What does this mean?

  • “DOT” certifies that the tire meets or exceeds the Department of Transportation’s Safety Standards
  • “MA” is a code number assigned by the DOT to an exact manufacturing plant
  • “L8” reflects the tire size
  • “EFG” is a group of symbols that the manufacturer uses to identify the brand or other important defining features of the tire
  • “0609” represents when the tire was manufactured. “0609” means that the tire was manufactured the sixth week of 2009.

If a tire was made before the year 2000, the last three digits of the number represent the date of manufacturing. For instance, if the last three digits are 587, then the tire was made in the 58th week of 1997. Tires made after the year 2000, as is explained above, have four numbers reflecting the date of manufacturing.

Replacing Tires in Florida

Aside from age, tires may also fail due to under inflation, over inflation, road hazards, poor maintenance, improper installation, an overloaded vehicle, structural defects, and other causes. While some auto manufacturers suggest that tires be replaced every six years, no matter what the duration of their use is, many tire manufacturers claim that 10 years marks a tire’s maximum service life.

So what should you do? The U.S. Department of Transportation suggests that it may be best to check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations for your vehicle and to consider getting new tires if you believe that your vehicle has tires that are over six years of age.

Auto Accidents Caused by Aged or Defective Tires

It is no secret that tires play a vital role in maintaining and controlling a vehicle’s operation as well as ensuring the safety of vehicle occupants. If you or a loved one has been injured in aFlorida car accident that you believe was caused by an improperly labeled tire or a defective tire, the Jacksonville auto product liability attorneys at Farah & Farah can help you hold negligent tire manufacturers or auto makers legally responsible.

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