The sidewall of a tyre has a wealth of information, often not understandable to the average motorist, yet the information is a requirement. That’s why it is there. Otherwise, the manufacturer would be happy to simply put their brand and the tyre name on the sidewall and leave it there as a rolling billboard.
As motorists, we are pretty good with the rim diameter, aspect ratio, and section width and understanding that most tyres today are radial ply.
Delving deeper we learn about important areas such as the speed rating and load index and develop an understanding regarding the influence they may have on overall safety and performance.
Then we get to one oft-ignored, the sell-by date. When shopping for groceries we always check this one but very few people even know that it appears on the sidewall of a tyre.
New tyres have a standard five-year warranty issued by the manufacturer. This warrants that the tyre in its unused state is free from any manufacturing defects for five years from the date it was manufactured. Once they have passed this date they are no longer considered to be a new tyre. The warranty does not extend beyond five years even if the tyre has not been used or sold.
So what do you look for to determine the age of a tyre? On the sidewall amongst the plethora of information you will find a designator in a specific format e.g. ;
- DOT U22LL LMLR 5020
The last number is the key.
- 50 refers to the fact that the tyre was made in the 50th week of a year.
- 20 refers to the year, in this case, 2020.
All fairly simple but often not explained and worth looking for. Especially when buying tyres in small towns where the turnover may not be that high. This will indicate how long the warranty is still valid.
Once your tyres have reached the five year age period it will be worth having them checked by a professional to have their total condition assessed. Whilst you may be fine with the minimum tread depth it is worth checking the casing for cracks and defects. A dealer may see items that are not obvious to a cursory glance and a replacement tyre or tyres may be recommended.
So where does this leave you in the event of an accident? Well, simply this relates to the roadworthiness of your vehicle. If the assessment revealed that there are no faults and the tyres were in good condition then the vehicle is considered to be roadworthy.
However, if you have an accident and the assessor is worried about the condition of the tyres then an expert opinion may be called for. A causal link would need to be proven between the age of the tyre and its influence on the cause of the accident. The key to the validation of your cover is regular assessment of your tyres and the roadworthiness of your vehicle. All of this could be part and parcel of your servicing schedule. And this will also ensure peace of mind, hassle-free motoring.