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DOT Date Code & Tire Age Explained

Tires-Easy Radial Tires, Tire Buying Guide, Tire Safety, Tire Technology

How Old Are My Tires? DOT Date Code Tells You

Are you concerned about the age of your tires?

This quick guide will help you find the manufacture date of your tire and understand how Tires Easy handles tire age based on the DOT Code. Keeping a record of your tires and understanding their age will help you save money on repairs and take proper care of your vehicle.

What Is Tire DOT Date Code?

To find your tires’ age, you need to locate the DOT Date Code on the tire. This symbol indicates the tire manufacturer’s compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety standards. It tells you who manufactured the tire, where it was made, and other tracking information. Plus, it indicates that the tire has passed the Department of Transportation’s testing and NHTSA manufacturer requirements.

The raised numbers of the DOT Code are placed together and often enclosed in a raised oval. The first two numbers are the week the tire was manufactured. In the example below, 35 stands for “week 35.” The second two numbers are the year the tire was manufactured. In the image below, we see the 07, indicating the tire was build in 2007. This particular tire was made in the 35th week of 2007.

Tire aging, DOT number on the side of a boat trailer tire

On tires that were manufactured in 2000 and after, the last four digits indicate the week and year the tire was produced. The first two digits identify the week and the second two identify the year.

Where to Find the DOT Code on the Tire

It’s not always easy to find the tire DOT code. There aren’t regulations on where the manufacturer has to place the information, so you may need to look at multiple sides of your tires before you can find the numbers. However, the identification information is usually on the inner sidewall of tires.

Tires-Easy Tire Age Warranty

At Tires Easy, we believe that the tire warranty should begin from the date of purchase, not the DOT Code. If you purchase new tires today, and the DOT Code was a year ago, your warranty will still begin on the purchase date, not the manufacture date of the tire.

If for any reason you are uncomfortable with the age of your tires after looking at the DOT Date code, please call us and we can quickly provide you with a return under our 45 day return policy.

Why Should I Be Concerned About the DOT Date Code?

Just because you buy “new” tires doesn’t mean they were actually made recently. It can take a while for tires to reach tire retailers after being shipped from the manufacturer. Checking your tires’ DOT Date Code will tell you when they were made and how long they may have been stored. It is important to know that tires are often for months or years at a time, so your tire’s DOT code might not be in the same year you bought the tires, and that’s not a concern.

At Tires Easy, we take tire protection VERY seriously. Once the tires reach us, they are moved into Tires Easy’s industrial tire warehouses to ensure proper storage and prevent exposure to seasonal weather conditions. Our storage locations are cool, climate-controlled, and dry, preventing any premature aging or damage. Tire aging can be rapidly accelerated by poor storage conditions, so you should be sure the tires you purchase have been properly stored.

How Old is Too Old?

A general consensus from various tire industry associations around the world is that tires have a useful service life of six to ten years. As technology changes, there are more materials, and combinations of comounds, to extend tire life and extend wear. At Tires Easy, we like to err on the side of caution and only sell tires that are seven years old and under. If you consider that the average driver travels 15,000 miles per year, most tires need to be replaced in 4 years. If your tires were a few years old when purchasing, you would still be well within the accepted tire age range. This is especially true if the tires receive the proper amount of care and maintenance over the course of their lifetime.

Legally, you must replace your tires when the tread depth falls below 1.6 mm. Additionally, it’s recommended that you change summer tires at 3 mm and winter tires at 4 mm tread depth. This keeps your tires at optimal levels of safety.

When your tires reach seven years of age, we recommend that you consider replacing them. Even if the tires look new, it is best to have them inspected by a professional tire installer, so they can properly advise on the safety of the tires moving forward. Spare tires should be checked and replaced as well.

No matter how old the tires are when you buy them, the most important aspect of tire safety is regular maintenance and inspection. According to the The Rubber Manufacturer’s Association of America and the Tire & Rubber Association of Canada.

“Since service and storage conditions vary widely, accurately predicting the service life of any specific tire based on calendar age is not possible.”

For this reason, there is no specific limitation on the age of the tire when it is sold based on its DOT Code.

Common Misconceptions About DOT Code Tire Age

1. In terms of the DOT Date Code, some might assume that the number states when the tire was approved. On the contrary, the DOT symbol by itself simply indicates that the tire is approved by the Department of Transportation to be legally used on the road. The Date Code is when the tire was manufactured (not when it was approved).

2. You might also have heard that you should only buy tires that have a DOT code within the current year. As we mentioned earlier, this is often not the case with many tires simply because it takes time for the tire to reach the United States from the manufacturer. As long as the tires have been stored properly, they will be in excellent condition, even if the DOT Date code is a couple of years old.

Proper Storage Increases the Life of the Tire

When stored properly and protected from the elements, tires age quite slowly. The Rubber Manufacturers Association has said there’s no way to put a date on when tires actually “expire.” There are too many factors that impact the true age of a tire.

To help prolong the life of a tire, tire retailers will:

  • Protect the tires from UV rays or excessively high temperatures.
  • Keep the tires cool and dry to prevent deterioration.
  • Eradicate moisture or humidity that could compromise the tires.
  • Prevent tires from freezing when temperatures drop.

While these are the main contributors to excessive tire aging, it would still take years of exposure in the hottest, wettest, and driest climates for the first signs of tire aging to appear. Tires are durable, and if they’re showing signs of damage within the first few years, it’s a sign of poor quality. Whitening of the rubber and shallow hairline cracks in the upper or lower sidewall may be an indication of UV and heat damage, but these symptoms aren’t issues you commonly see in new tires.

Tire aging

Sidewall cracking due to UV rays

Frequently Asked Questions About Tire Age

Do tires get hard with age?

Yes, the rubber gets hard over time as the tire loses its elasticity. This happens regardless of how much you use your tires over the course of the years.

Is there a firm date to replace my tires?

Every tire has a birthday, and many tires will not be sold 7 years later. However, since some tires don’t technically become unsafe until a decade after they’re produced, the best advice is to have your tire checked by a professional to make sure they are safe for continued driving.

If you have any questions about your tire’s DOT Code or tire age in general, get in contact and let us assist you!

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