New Threat Posed by Old Tires

Before you head out in a ministry vehicle, it’s a good idea to check the tires—and not just the air pressure and tread depth. Old tires are especially susceptible to dangerous blowouts, even if they don’t always show the traditional signs of wear. By knowing how to spot old tires, you can replace them before they cause problems for your ministry.

Tires Weaken With Age

As tires get older, they begin to dry out. The aging process can even be accelerated by normal weather conditions such as summer heat and sunlight. After six years, there’s a higher risk of the tread separating from the tire, which can cause a sudden blowout and loss of control of the vehicle. Automakers recommend that tires be replaced after about six to 10 years, regardless of wear.

Tire aging is an especially relevant issue when vehicles get occasional use — or heavy use only on the weekends — as is the case with many church vans and buses. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, infrequent use is another factor that can speed up tires’ aging process.

New Tires May Not Be New

Even the tires that you buy off the shelf could be older than they appear at first glance. Some tires may sit on store shelves for years before being sold. As a result, customers can buy “brand-new” tires that are really four years old.

Know the Code

To find the age of a tire, look for the letters “DOT” (Department of Transportation) followed by 10 to 12 letters and numbers. On newer model tires, the tire identification number is on the outside sidewall; older models will have the identification information on the inner sidewall. The last four digits tell you the week and year the tire was manufactured. 

Decipher the tire stamp date using this formula: 0113 would indicate that the tire was manufactured in the first week of the year 2013; 1213 means the tire was manufactured in the 12th week of the year 2013 (March, not December). If the tire is six or more years old, it may be time to replace it, even if it doesn’t show the typical signs of wear. It’s important to examine the tires on your ministry vehicle before hitting the road. By taking a few extra moments to check the age of your tires, you can spot and replace old ones, increasing safety in your ministry.