Checking tyre tread levels is a must-do for all responsible UK motorists, but knowing the age of your tyres can be just as important if you want to avoid calling-out your breakdown provider.
Lee Puffett, Managing Director of Start Rescue, one of the UK’s largest breakdown companies explained, “Better weather means all kinds of vehicles are coming out of hibernation and back on the road, such as cherished classics, cool convertibles, motorhomes, family runabouts and sports bikes. Even cars parked up for months by fair weather drivers will also make an appearance.
“And whilst there might be plenty of tread and you’re road legal, the tyres could be in bad shape. The majority of leading tyre manufacturers recommend replacing tyres at ten years, including the spare in the boot, and we think this is sound advice from the experts.”
Tyre ‘age checks’ don’t need expert help, there’s a prominent DOT marking on the sidewall with the final four digits showing first the week and then the year of manufacture.
If you’re seeing 0212 (that’s the second week of 2012) it might be high time to buy some fresh rubber, even if the tread is fine. Our shot above shows a tyre made in February 2016.
Start Rescue’s data underlines how (usually avoidable) tyre problems continue to plague motorists, with 20 per cent of all requests for their help at the roadside being tyre or wheel related.
And those stats are nudging in the wrong direction with a seven per cent increase noted in the first months of 2023 compared to last year.
The 10-year ‘time for change’ advice is not the only factor. Even younger, low mileage tyres can get old before their time due to low usage, periods of idleness or the rubber drying out due to UV light exposure.
This means that a tyre that regularly ‘hits the road’ can often be healthier because anti-oxidising chemicals are activated which slow the ageing process.
Start Rescue, a Which? Recommended Provider for the last four years suggests a fortnightly routine, especially before long journeys, which focusses on tread depths, keeping to manufacturer-advised pressures and keeping an eye-out for deterioration like cracks, uneven wear, bulges, cuts and the tyre’s age. Anything that doesn’t look right should be checked by a professional.