The importance of tyres in a vehicle cannot be over emphasized, as they are the only thing that separate the vehicle body and the road, allowing it to stop, start and manoeuvre safely. Every competent driver knows this, yet numbers of car accidents related to problematic tyres keep increasing each year. Most cases involved tyres exploding while moving at top speed, causing the driver to oversteer or lose control, often resulting in profoundly serious or even fatal accidents.
How do we reduce the harms caused by such unwanted outcomes? Simple – check your tyres frequently. See if the tread is worn beyond the recommended tread depth levels, the sidewall is damaged, any hole in the tread that is bigger than 6 mm in diameter, or if the bead is damaged or deformed. If any of this checks out, you might want to consider replacing it, which brings us to an even trickier part.
When buying a new tyre, we tend to look at the brands and designs rather than the more important aspect of it – the expiry date. Yes, tyres do have expiry dates, as they are made of rubber, and the quality of rubber depreciates with time as it ages. If properly stored in cool places, shielded from direct sunlight, away from chemicals and electric generators, newly manufactured tyres can last up to 10 years. However, we cannot guarantee that all shops will give their tyres such TLC. That is why the Automobile Association of Malaysia (AAM) Chairman, Tunku Datuk Mudzaffar Tunku Mustapha advises against buying tyres that are over two years old.
So how do we determine the expiry date of a tyre? On the sidewalls of the tyre, there is a stamp known as the DOT (Department of Transportation) code that includes a four-digit figure, which some of us may have taken for granted. The last two digit shows its year of manufacture, while the first two digit represents which week of that year it was made. For example, the picture shows “1920”, which means the 19th week of the year 2020, somewhere around mid-May last year, which is still acceptable for purchase. If the last two digits show something lower than 19, you might want to ask for a newer tyre.
All in all, remember to check your tyres regularly. If they need replacing, do check the new tyres' manufacturing dates before purchasing. It might seem costly, but not as costly as losing your life.