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Don’t Tread on Me: The Danger of Aged Tires

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Many of us have experienced a flat tire on I-64 or I-664 or have been told by a mechanic that our tires need to be replaced to pass inspection. However, even if you purchase “new” tires, you could be at risk of suffering a serious injury in an accident. Why? Because some tires that are advertised as “new” are actually aged tires that can wear out quickly and become major hazards on the road.

ABC News did a report showing retailers selling supposedly new tires, but these tires were sitting on the shelves for years. You may be thinking, “Well, if they haven’t been driven, then they should be ok.” Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The rubber on tires dries out and, even if they look new on surface, they can be extremely dangerous when actually driven on the road. It’s similar to a gallon of milk. On the surface, milk can look perfectly fine and drinkable, but if it’s past the expiration date, the milk can become rancid and dangerous to consume. However, we can determine whether or not to consume the milk based on the expiration date. Unfortunately, this is not the case for tire purchasers.

Today, tires do not have expiration dates on them. This is a big reason why people purchase what appear to be new, and perfectly usable, tires but wind up suffering a tire blowout not long thereafter. If that wasn’t bad enough, trying to determine the exact date your tires were manufactured requires deciphering a cryptic code that is placed on the inner side of your tire. This means it is virtually impossible for the average consumer to actually know when their tires were made.

So what is the solution? Well, as someone who has written numerous blogs about accident victims who have suffered life-altering injuries in tire blowout accident cases, I believe the solution is two-fold: (1) place an expiration date on the tire and (2) place the date of manufacturing on the outer portion of the tire and make it understandable to the average consumer. What is a good expiration date for a tire? Well, studies indicate that six years is a reasonable lifespan for tires before they become serious hazards. For example, Safety Research and Strategies reported that 84 percent of insured tire claims it examined from a number of states involved tires that were more than six years old, according to MSNBC.com. A research video showed a tire that had been artificially aged to six years disintegrating under the load of a moving car.

Hopefully tire manufacturers will voluntarily take these simple steps to help improve the safety of their customers, but if they don’t, the government may need to step in and require tire manufacturers to include an expiration date and a basic readable date of manufacturing for consumers.

PA

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.