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Paul Walker’s Death Hints on Dangers of Old Tires

Paul_WalkerThe latest details about the death of the Fast and Furious star Paul Walker and friend Roger Rodas revealed that “unsafe speed” caused the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT they were riding in to crash and burst into flames.  Rodas, who was driving the high-performance vehicle, was going 93 mph, police said, which is too fast for a curvy road.

But the California Highway Patrol investigators also found that the Carrera GT had aging tires which, they said, may have compromised the driving and handling characteristics of the Porsche. At least two of the tires are over 9 years old.

It may not be the old tires that caused the crash, but they certainly played a role. Unfortunately, many people who have been riding in vehicles with old tires could also face the same fate as Walker’s. The thing is they don’t know when exactly they should replace their tires, how old is old, and that they need to replace them on a regular basis.

How Old is Old?

Consumer Reports recommend following the guidelines on tire care and maintenance provided by some manufacturers. According to these automakers, tires that are 9 years old or older should not be used anymore. Porsche is stricter with the Carrera GT tires recommending replacement when they reach 4 years. But if manufacturer’s recommendation is not available, you can follow Consumer Reports’ which limit the tire age to 10 years.

These recommendations are regardless of the vehicle’s mileage. That’s because the aging process of tires goes on even if the car just sits on a lot. Deterioration occurs from the tire’s internal structure and is not evident from the outside. So, your tires can appear to have lots of tread and be perfectly fine. But because they are aging, their performance is also waning. Unless you check up on them routinely, you wouldn’t know when they already need to be replaced.

So How Do You Know the Age of Your Tires?

Know when they were made rather than purchased. How? Look for the tire identification number or code at the sidewall of the tire. It starts with the letters D-O-T which tell you that the tire has passed the Department of Transportation’s standards. Then look at the last four digits. The first two digits in this code refer to the week the tire was made. The last two, or one in some tires, tell you the year.

For example, a tire code like DOT P143 35HV 1612 tells you that the tire was made in the 16th week of year 2012. That means it is just 2 years old if today is 2014.

Bottom Line

You may say that it’s expensive to replace tires that haven’t been driven for higher miles. But it’s better to stay safe than drive with deteriorated tires which can affect the overall performance of your car. In fact, Consumer Reports suggests replacing old tires even if they have never been driven. That means you don’t have to see the tires all worn out before replacing them. When they’re aged, it’s time.

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