Less than one in five motorists knows how to find the age of a tyre or when to change them. The reason tyre age is important is because tyre performance deteriorates with age, causing handling and safety problems.

How To Identify the Age of a Tyre

Tyres contain anti-oxidising chemicals - a waxy substance that slows the rate of ageing, but it is only released when the tyres are in use. Like an old rubber band where the rubber cracks, the same happens as your tyres get older.

How long does a tyre last?

There are no strict rules on this, with some manufacturers recommending replacement every six years, irrespective of mileage. Others claim a 10-year lifespan for tyres, but say they need checking after five years. Heat, storage and usage all affect the ageing of your tyres.

Signs of ageing

Your tyres usually wear out well before they show signs of age. However, if you do less than 8,000 miles a year, your tyres may become unsafe while the tread is still legal. Tyres naturally degrade from exposure to the weather. Ageing damage is more common on caravans and trailers that are used infrequently.

To determine if your tyres have ageing damage:

- Check the sidewalls for cracking and crazing, especially if the car is kept outside

- Check for tread deformation

Even if you have done a 20p test and the tyres have plenty of tread left, they might have suffered age damage so visually inspect them every month.

How do I know how old my tyres are?

The information you need to work out the age of your tyres is on the tyre sidewall. Look for the letters DOT followed by a number code. This tells you the age of the tyre: the first two numbers are the week of manufacture; the second two indicate the year.

Only tyres manufactured after the year 2000 have this four digit code, so if the code is only three digits, replace them.

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