How old are your tires? Just like milk, tires have an expiration date. And that expiration can have a big impact on performance and safety.
The last four digits represent the week and year of manufacture — two digits each — in this order:
The first two identify the week (01 through 53).
The second two identify the year (the last two digits of the year).
How to tell the age of a tire and why you need the information
The DOT number is a code made up of several numbers and letters that identifies the manufacturer, tire size, plant where it was manufactured, and date when the tire was manufactured.
The last four digits represent the date of manufacture, with the first two numbers identifying the week of production during the year (from 1 to 52) and the last two digits identifying the year.
Following is an example: DOT YH2 V2W 02262 = 222nd day of 2009 or August 11th, 2009
Tires of all load capacities have a date code molded into their sidewalls. The date code is based on the week, and year the tires were made.
The last four digits of the DOT number represent the tire’s age. For example, suppose the last four digits are “1510.” The first pair of numbers stand for the week of the year.
In this case, that’s the 15th week of 2010. The second pair of numbers stands for the last two digits of the year, so this tire was manufactured in 2010.
DOT guidelines specify that tires more than 10 years old shouldn’t be used on passenger cars, SUVs, minivans, or other vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds, even if they appear to be in good shape and there are plenty of treads left on them.
The reason: Older tires lose some of their structural integrity over time and can fail without warning. A blowout at highway speeds is a very serious problem that can lead to a rollover or loss-of-control crash.
Tires used on larger vehicles — such as RVs, motorhomes, buses, and commercial trucks — should be inspected by an expert every six years regardless of age.
How do you read a tire date code?
Tires do have a shelf life, regardless of the amount of tread life left. It is recommended that tires generally be replaced after 6 years.
However, tire age can be hard to determine. The date of manufacture will be the week and year the tire was produced.
It is not as simple as reading a date code printed on the side of a tire, however. For example, let’s take a look at this code: DOT K7VY 0210
The first two letters are “DOT,” which indicates that this is a Department of Transportation compliant tire. The next two letters (K7) identify the manufacturer. In this case, it’s Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. The next letter (V) stands for “passenger vehicle.”
The next letter (Y) identifies the tire size (see below). The last four digits (0210) indicate that this particular tire was manufactured in the second week of 2010.
Tire size: P = Passenger/Light Truck LT = Light Truck T = Temporary Spare ST = Special Trailer
So, when you see an old tire for sale, and it looks in good shape with plenty of treads left, does it mean that it’s still safe to use? Not necessarily!
How old is considered old for a tire?
One of the most common questions asked by motorists is, “How long are tires good for?” The answer depends on more than just age. Properly maintained, a tire can last well over 10 years.
But if it’s not cared for, you could be putting yourself at risk every time you drive your car. In fact, according to the NHTSA, 939 people were killed in tire-related crashes in 2015.
According to Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), one of the nation’s leading tire organizations: “A tire does not ‘wear out’ necessarily with age but rather through usage.”
Do tires have an expiration date?
Are the tires on your car safe to use? Or should you replace them, even if they still have some tread remaining?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no regulations for how long a tire can be in use. Yet other agencies and organizations do have recommendations.
The tire manufacturer is the only one who has the data to answer whether a tire is safe or not. They have a lot of information about their product and how it ages over time.
Tire manufacturers are also required by law to put a date code on every tire they make. If you can’t find that date, then don’t buy the tire (that includes used tires).
Every passenger car and light truck tire manufactured since 2000 carries a 4-digit DOT code.
The first two digits of the Tire Identification Number (TIN) are the week of manufacture. The second two digits are the year of manufacture. For example, a DOT code of 2409 indicates that the tire was manufactured during the 24th week of 2009.
Some tires have a 3-digit DOT code, which means they were made before 2000 and have probably aged past their prime. New tires should not be sold with old stock tires, but even some dealers will sell old inventory when they can get away with it.
So, keep your eyes open for those DOT numbers when you look at your tires or replacement tires—buying new tires? Make sure you check those dates.
Are 10-year-old tires safe?
Tires have a “born-on” date, which is the last four digits of the DOT code. This tells you when the tire was made, not when it was installed on a vehicle, and it’s always in Month/Week format. For example, if a tire’s DOT code reads “1208,” that means it was made in the 12th week of 2008.
The tire may be good for up to 10 years after being manufactured, but it will likely begin to degrade after six years.
Some tires are safe to use 10 years from the date of manufacture, while other tires should be replaced six years from the date of manufacture. It all depends on how old they are and where they have been stored.
How do I find out the age of my tires?
Checking the DOT code on your tires is the best way to confirm their age. The DOT code is a series of numbers and letters identifying where and when a tire was made.
The last four digits of the DOT code indicate the week and year that the tire was manufactured. In this example, this tire was made in the 40th week of 2014.
If you can’t find any information on how to read a DOT code, contact your local tire dealer or manufacturer for assistance.
How do I tell what year my tires are made?
The four-number DOT code represents the week, and year the tire was manufactured. The first two numbers indicate the week in which the tire was produced, and the second two numbers tell you the year.
For example, if you see a four-digit number on your tires that starts with 1409, it means your tire was produced in the 14th week of 2009.
If you see a three-digit number that starts with 709, it means your tire was made in the 70th week of 2009. If you see a four-digit number that starts with 1310, it means your tire was made in the 13th week of 2010.
If you’re looking for a set of replacement tires, be sure they were manufactured during the same week (or at least during consecutive weeks) as your current set. If they are not, your car may experience some handling problems as you drive down the road.
What do the numbers on a tire identification number mean?
Most tires have a date code stamped on them. This indicates the week and year that the tire was made.
The last four digits of this code are used to determine the date of manufacture. The first two digits identify the week of manufacture, and the second two digits identify the year. For example, “2811” would tell you that it was manufactured during the 28th week of 2011.
Sidewall Style: The sidewall style is indicated by letters within a tire size, such as P215/65R15 95H M+S. These letters are explained as follows:
P = Passenger car tire
LT = Light Truck
T = Temporary (spare)
ST = Special Trailer (up to 3,500 lbs.)
How old are my tires based on the dot code?
When you look at your tire sidewall, you’ll find a series of numbers and letters, which are represented in the graphic below. The last four digits represent the date of manufacture. The first two digits are the week, and the second two are the year, for example:
4201 indicates that the tire was made in the 42nd week of 2011
It’s important to note that this is not an expiration date. It’s the manufacturing date. Your tires don’t expire after a set number of years.
They expire when they’re worn down to the legal limit or unsafe to use. Most manufacturers recommend replacing them after 6 years, regardless of tread depth.
The best way to determine if your tires need to be replaced is to use a tread depth gauge or penny test on all four tires.
If you have any questions about when to replace your tires, visit your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care store or a local mechanic for an inspection.
Frequently asked questions
1. Are 5 year old tires still good?
This is not to say that tires can’t be good after 10 years. But some experts suggest that the tread life of a tire maxes out at around six years.
Most tire manufacturers will tell you to give your tires a visual check every 6,000 to 8,000 miles or 6 months — whichever comes first.
The general consensus is that most tires should be inspected for wear at least once a year and should be replaced after 10 years regardless of wear.
2. Is it OK to buy 2 year old tires?
Tires wear out over time, even when they’re not being used. It’s possible for a tire to dry out and crack in as little as four years, but that’s not typical. In most cases, the useful life of a tire is about 10 years.
One very important factor is the storage conditions where the tires are kept. Tires should be stored in an air-conditioned area at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).
3. How old can DOT tires be?
The DOT code on a tire tells you when it was manufactured, not how old it is. The last four digits of the code tell you when the tire was made during that week.
For example, if the last four digits are 2302, then the tire was made in the 23rd week of 2002. Check out this guide to learn how to find your DOT code.
4. Do tires get hard with age?
The rubber compounds used to make tires do harden over time, so an older tire will lose some of its flexibility and responsiveness.
However, this can happen well before you reach 10 years of age, so age isn’t always a good indicator of when a tire needs to be replaced.
The DOT number is designed to allow consumers to determine whether a specific tire has been recalled by its manufacturer due to safety concerns and also helps you identify when it is time to replace an older tire with a newer one.
If the date on a tire is several years old and you need to replace it, consider replacing all four tires at once instead of just one or two.
This allows you to keep consistent handling and traction for all four wheels, which is important for your safety as well as for your car’s handling and performance.