Did you know new tyres have an expiry date?

When you are in the market for buying new tyres, did you ever think to check the expiry date on the tyre?  Tyres do in fact 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 Vishal Premlall, national director of the Tyres Equipment Parts Association (TEPA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).

He says it’s important that consumers know what to check for when it comes to purchasing 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 which could impact your safety,”  says Premlall.

He says your safest bet is always to only use a reputable dealer. TEPA members for example are required to conduct business 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/TEPA for assistance.” He advises that 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 claim extremely difficult to prove. However, in the case of people buying illegal second hand tyres that are beyond the five-year warranty expiry, this becomes a far more common issue and often there is no paperwork associated with the sale.”

So what should consumers look out for? 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 unfortunately exploded in recent years, with more and more second-hand dealers springing up. Premlall says consumers need to be wary when considering these dealers. They need to bear in mind that without adequate quality control, the tyre may be unsafe to use. Then, in addition,  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 condition it could in fact have internal aging which is not always evident.”

Premlall 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 tyre fitment centre 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 Premlall.

Ensuring tyres are in good condition needs to be a priority for all drivers, particularly since many of our roads are in poor condition. “It’s not worth skimping or trying to cut corners when it comes to tyres. We are not sure how many deaths on our roads are directly related to tyres not fit for use,” he concludes.

Vishal Premlall - TEPA Director