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Tyre age: Consumer awareness, legislation

By Louis Rumao

Safety advocates say aging increases the risk of dangerous tyre failures, while the tyre industry opposes any “arbitrary” tyre age regulations. Now the Federal government has taken up the issue. Putting a date code on tyres may give consumers the impression that tyres have a shelf / service life, and therefore, the industry may be reluctant to have date codes, according to one safety expert.Louis

On May 13, 2014, the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched its TireWise campaign to provide consumers and retailers with essential information about choosing and caring for tyres. NHTSA estimates that each year there are almost 200 fatalities as a result of tyre-related crashes, and approximately 11,000 tyre-related vehicular crashes.

NHTSA claims that this campaign is meant not only to enhance safety, but also to help consumers make more informed choices when it comes to choosing and caring for their tyres – keeping them safer and saving them money at the same time.

American media, especially the TV, has picked up on this, and had lengthy segments, especially about the “age” of a tyre, and how it could affect tyre performance.

Tyre age degradation is part of a first-of-its-kind special investigation launched by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) into the hundreds of deaths each year from “tyre initiated events.” “Aging does potentially play a role in the degradation of the internal structure of the tyre,” said Don Karol, the investigator leading the NTSB initiative.

These reports emphasized that for consumers, determining the age of a tyre can be a daunting task. The date of production is found in a unique code at the end of 11- or 12-digit identification number on the tyre’s sidewall, using a week/year numbering system. For example, a tyre produced in early June of 2010 (in the 21st week of the year) would be displayed as 2110. However, the media reports claim that consumers are more accustomed to seeing the more common 06/10 (month/year) numbering system.

Safety experts say a tyre can age and degrade under certain conditions even if it has not spent any time on the road.

Ford, GM and Chrysler all urge motorists to replace tyres that are six years of age or older because of the possibility the rubber in them could degrade and create a dangerous situation in which the tyre loses its tread. But tyre industry trade group, the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), says the six-year limit is ”an arbitrary date” not supported by facts and has hired lobbyists to defeat laws that would require mandatory inspection of tyre age.

The tyre industry generally recommends professional tyre inspection after five years, and replacement after 10 years. On most cars, which typically do more 12,000 miles per year, tyres are replaced much sooner because of wear and other road-hazard damage.

Full Article in PTA June/July issue

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