Old tires sold as “new”, what to look for when making purchases

By News Staff


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When you buy a tire it might appear brand new but unless you know where to look it could actually be much, much older.

Not knowing how old your tires are is a real safety risk.

ABC6 News reporter Ron Regan has more on what to look out for.

Meanwhile, Safety Research & Associates, a leading auto safety advocacy group, says it has documented “catastrophic” failures including 252 incidents, 233 fatalities and 300 injuries across the country.

Sean Kane, an auto safety advocate says “old tires are routinely sold, installed and put in service on cars unbeknownst to consumers.”

Kane says a tire can look virtually brand new, but can “be a significant hazard because the internal materials have degraded and they're not visible.”

Aged tires are easy to sell for price discount and consumers are largely unaware of little known code right on the tire that could save their lives.

Every tire has a Department of Transportation code on the sidewall the last four digits reveal the week and year the tire was actually manufactured.

A tire with the last four digits 2613 indicates the tire was made in the 26th week of 2013.

But consumers are rarely informed when sold tires often with tragic results.

Maria and Francisco Meraz lost their 19-year-old son after they say the tire he thought was brand new failed, causing a fatal crash.

“The treads went off and he lost control of the car,” said Francisco Meraz.

“You think the new tires, great condition the best,” said his mother Maria.

In turns out, the tires that appeared like new were actually 15 years old.

Gary Eto is an attorney representing the Meraz family and says “aged tires lead to tire separation.”

The same thing happened to Hank Price, who bought what he believed were new tires.

Instead, the tire separated, nearly causing a crash.

“I though it was new. It looked new,” said Price.

In another case, a 12-year-old boy was killed after a tire that the family believed was new blew apart.

Even so, investigation found even many tire manufacturers, as well as major auto companies, advise consumers about aging tires.

Both General Motors and Chrysler have specific guidelines in their owner's manuals cautioning against tires that are beyond six years old.

In addition, Bridgestone Firestone, Michelin and Continental all have similar advisories.

Even so, the Rubber Manufacturer's Association (RMA) strongly disagrees that components in tires break down over years causing safety risks.

“There's no scientific or technical data that we're aware of that would establish or identify minimum or maximum tire service life,” said RMA spokesperson Dan Zielinksi.