Technology & Knowledge – Pre-holiday trip safety check: How old are my tires?

Mid Gro-Gerau – Not an Artifact: This tire with the number 2521 in the oval was produced in the 25th week of 2021, around June. Klaus Preter / Mid

Whether the tires are still suitable for driving is not just a matter of tread depth and general visual condition. If you want to be safe on the road, you don’t have to make any compromises when it comes to tire life – even if the tire is moved quite a bit.

Whether the tires are still suitable for driving is not just a matter of tread depth and general visual condition. If you want to be safe on the road, you don’t have to make any compromises when it comes to tire life – even if the tire is moved quite a bit.

Are you going on a long trip again soon? Perhaps with a vehicle that is only used seasonally: no matter if it’s a camper van, motorhome, or motorhome trailer? Then it is definitely worth checking the age of the tires. Because the lush tread that may still be present in cars or trailers is rarely any indication of whether a tire has passed its “expiration date”.

age determination? That smell like too much effort. But if you know how to do it, this test is a lot less complicated than measuring the exact profile (legal minimum tread depth: 1.6mm). Because tire manufacturers are obligated to write the production date on the sidewall as well as, for example, information on dimensions, design or whether it is a summer or winter tire.

As the simplified graph with fuzzy columns of numbers and letters shows, the information is in the so-called DOT number. They are the last four digits of the vulcanized symbol on the sidewall of the tire. The first pair of numbers indicates the week of production, the second indicates the year of manufacture. The four-digit number combination is often enclosed in an oval. It’s easier to find that way.

How old should the tire be at most? ADAC advises that summer slippers should be no more than ten years old, and winter wheels should be no more than eight years old. Because the rubber compound in tires builds up over the years. And so it gradually develops its good qualities – mainly in terms of grip and braking.

It should also not be forgotten that vehicles or trailers taken on vacation trips are often loaded to the permissible weight limit. This is an additional stress factor for an old solid tire. Because it no longer flexes like a soft little specimen.

It is therefore recommended that these tires be replaced at the age of six years but at the latest after eight years. Caravan tires in particular age quickly due to exposure to the sun, long parking periods and a lack of air pressure checks on the stadiums.

Klaus Engelhardt, a product spokesperson for Continental tire maker, explains what this effect means: “An old tire can get warmer or even hotter when driven. Changes inside the tire due to physical and chemical processes can damage the tread area or blisters that form. Already on the sidewall, not far from the tire burst or the tread detachment from the chassis. If you want to be absolutely sure or have doubts about the performance of the tires, you should turn to a specialist dealer or workshop for advice. “

If you ignore trailer tires approved for speeds up to 100 km/h, there is no legal regulation for a maximum age. If the 100 tires, which are often used on caravans, are older than six years, they lose their approval at the higher speed and can only be moved at speeds of up to 80 km/h. If you don’t comply, you have to take into account the annoyance of the police or – in the event of an accident – the insurance company.

Since the production date and not the date of installation on the vehicle is crucial in any case, it is worth keeping your eyes open when buying tires. Because even tires up to five years old are still considered new, according to an expert report from the Bundesverband Reifenhandel und Vulkaniseur-Handwerk eV “if they are stored professionally and appropriately”. Tires up to three years old still have a Factory New rating. This may not be a problem with a car that “cleans” several kilometers in a short time, but it is a problem if it is used infrequently.

Here’s another tip for camper drivers. There are frames for mobile living rooms designed specifically for high loads. In this case, it is wise to ask your tire store for tires that meet the CP standard. Even if not all dimensions are covered in this tire category: for popular camper vans, based on Fiat, Ford, Mercedes and VW, for example, the trade usually covers the appropriate tire sizes.

After all, you don’t have to wait until you go on vacation to look at the DOT number. Then it won’t be tight if the tires have to be ordered first. And who wants to take an increased risk because very old tires were not stopped in time. In this case, respect for age is not appropriate.

Klaus Preter / Mid

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