The Porsche Carrera actor Paul Walker was riding in when he crashed in Santa Clarita in 2013 had tires on it that were ten years old. The California Highway Patrol Investigative Group concluded that age might have compromised the Carrera’s handling characteristics and this may have played a factor in the accident.
Tires deteriorate over time
Most people associate a tire’s roadworthiness with the amount of tread it has left. While this may be one factor in their condition, one must remember that the rubber compounds in a tire deteriorate with time. The result is that you often have a tire that is unsafe, despite the fact it has good tread on it.
Why isn’t this more widely known?
For many drivers, having old tires never becomes an issue because they “wear out” before they get too old. If you drive around 12,000-15,000 miles annually, the tire’s on your car will wear out in 4-5 years. This is long before the rubber compound gets too old. The problem comes when one drives less. Say you drive only 6,000 miles a year or have a car that you only drive on weekends, then aging tires could become an issue for you at some point.
What happens to a tire as it ages?
Have you ever noticed that rubber bands when they get old develop cracks? That’s essentially what happens to an old tire on your car. Sometimes you can see these cracks on a tire’s sidewalls but sometimes the cracks are inside the tire itself. Obviously, if these cracks become too extensive, the integrity of the tire can be compromised.
How long does a tire last?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no specific guidelines on tire aging and defers to the recommendations of the tire manufacturers. According to Zeigler Chrysler, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer in Downsgrove, IL, most give a maximum life of approximately 5 years but it may be dependent on where you live.
NHTSA research has found that tires age more quickly in warmer climates. This is almost to be expected. People who live in warm states should keep this in mind when deciding whether they should retire a tire. Note: This applies to spare tires and tires that are sitting in a garage. If your spare is in the trunk, in hot climates it can be exposed to extreme heat.
Of all your vehicle’s components, tires have the greatest effect on the way it handles and brakes. Your tires, therefore, play a critical role in the keeping you and your occupants safe and sound. So if your local dealer recommends new tires at your five-year check-up, spend the money and don’t put it off. Your life could depend on it.
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