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It is common practice to check the expiration date on food, medicine, and cosmetics to ensure the products are still effective and safe to use. Did you know that the tires on your car have an expiration date as well?

The rubber in tires can degrade over time, losing elasticity and flexibility. This increases the risk of puncture and other types of damage, eventually making the tire unsafe to use. In some instances, the tread on an old tire can actually blow right off the wheel when exposed to heat! Yikes!

To mitigate these problems and to ensure your tires are safe to use on the road, routine vehicle upkeep should include checking the expiration date(s) on the tires. “Where is the tire’s expiration date,” you may ask? The expiration date should be located on one side of a tire near the rim, next to the DOT (Department of Transportation) code number (usually a string of 6-8 numbers and/or letters). The date code will be a four-digit number indicating the week and year the tire was manufactured. For example, 2515 means the tire was made in the 25th week of 2015.

It is typically recommended that tires be replaced at least every six years. That is the maximum period of warranty offered by manufacturers, and many service centers are not willing to service tires older than that. Frequent exposure to high heat, UV rays, or moisture can accelerate the aging process for rubber, making it even more important to inspect tires regularly for signs of deterioration and damage.

A factor that contributes to tire degradation is oxidative aging. Using oxygen-enriched gases to fill tire cavities can accelerate the aging process. An effective way to slow down oxidative degradation of rubber tires is to use Inertion. Inerting tires with nitrogen gas will significantly decrease the aging rate and help preserve the rubber properties, compared with inflation using oxygen-rich air.

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Post Author: Stacy Chin Ph.D.

Ph.D. in Polymer Chemistry from Boston University. Special emphasis in biochemistry, biomaterials, polymer synthesis, and translational research. She has many articles published in high impact peer review journals.

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