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Tyres have a five-year warranty expiry date. “Most vehicle owners probably don’t know this fact and wouldn’t even consider it to be an issue,” says Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), “however, there have been incidents brought to our attention where unscrupulous traders have sold expired tyres to unsuspecting customers.”
He says it’s important that consumers are aware of what they are purchasing when it comes to tyres since it is a costly but essential purchase. “By asking the right questions and understanding what you should be looking for there’s less chance you’ll be duped into buying a compromised part.”
Hedley Judd, Director of the Tyre Dealers’ and Fitment Centre Association (TDAFA), an affiliate association of the RMI, says while this is not a major issue in the industry, in an attempt to clamp down on it, the TDAFA has and continues to engage with the relevant government agencies and departments, with a view to reducing the potential for used, old and out-of-date products reaching the market. “The TDAFA is committed to the promotion of road safety and environmental sustainability, and as such is continuously active in these fields.”
“Your safest bet is to use a reputable dealer. TDAFA members are required to participate in a fair, honest, and equitable manner with all customers and suppliers. Should you believe you have been sold a tyre post the five-year warranty expiry mark, the first option is to approach the dealer. If you can’t resolve the issue, the next step is to approach the RMI/TDAFA for assistance in the negotiation.” He warns, however, the evidence needed is the dated invoice of the sale of the tyre and the tyre manufacturing date code. “Failure to produce an invoice will render any potential of a claim extremely difficult to prove. However, in the case of people buying second hand tyres that are beyond the five-year warranty expiry is a far more common issue and often there is no paper work associated with the sale.”
The age of a tyre can be determined by looking at the side wall of the tyre for the following markings:
DOT U2LL LMLR 5107
51 Manufactured during the 51st week of the year
07 Manufactured during 2007
While second-hand tyres may only be imported for re-treading purposes, the direct resale of imported second-hand tyres in South Africa remains illegal. The incidence of the illegal sale of imported used tyres has exploded in recent years, with more and more second-hand dealers springing up. Olivier says consumers need to be wary when considering these dealers as not only is there no Quality control of the tyres for purchase, where the tyre may well be unsafe to use but never checked properly, the running-cost calculation of second-hand tyres usually works out to be more expensive than new tyres.
“Prudence would not see a legitimate tyre dealer selling tyres after the five-year warranty expiry date, unless there is a valid reason to do so,” he says. “The most important issue surrounding tyre age is the manner of storage of the tyres. So, while a tyre may look to be in good nick it could in fact have internal aging which is not always evident.”
Judd says where tyres have been kept in a cool environment indoors and out of direct sunlight, the aging is limited to the correct rotation of the tyre on the shelf to reduce polymer memory in the rubber compound. This is quite the opposite where a tyre has been subjected to high temperatures, direct sunlight and left in one position for an extended period of time.
“If you notice your tyres have reached the five-year mark, the best course of action would be to visit the nearest TDAFA member and have the condition of the tyres assessed. The dealer may see safety critical issues with the tyres that you may have overlooked. In the event of a report of visible aging, there should be no hesitation in replacing the tyres immediately. Ensuring that tyres are replaced as axle pairs i.e. two at a time minimum, the best tyres are always fitted to the rear of the vehicle and not to the front as is often thought,” explains Judd.
Olivier says ensuring tyres are in good condition needs to be a priority for all drivers. “It’s not worth skimping or trying to cut corners when it comes to tyres. Many of the deaths on our roads are related to tyres malfunctioning and accidents happening. Speak to the experts and stay away from any unscrupulous dealers,” he concludes.