You have decided that the old tires on your car need to be replaced, so you go to a tire store and pick some “new” tires to replace those old and potentially dangerous tires. But, are those “new” tires actually safe? What you might not know is that a tire that may have been presented as new and looks new may actually be an old tire that has been sitting on a tire store shelf for years.

Frighteningly, there are no state laws or federal legal requirements that mandate tire stores to tell customers the actual age of the tires they are purchasing.

A recent investigative report by ABC 10 in San Diego confirmed a practice that is going on in the region and across the nation. A reporter for the news station purchased two ‘new” tires at a San Diego tire store for $60 each. When the reporter asked how he could determine if the tires were brand new, the clerk said, “Look at the tread.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) code on one of the tires indicated that it was actually 13 years old.

Safety experts say that inside components of tires degrade over time, even if the tread still looks good on the outside. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no specific guidelines on tire lifespan and defers to tire manufacturers to make that determination. Some say to replace tires six years after their production date; others say that their tires can last for up to ten years.

Auto safety advocacy group, Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., claims it has documented over 250 incidents of catastrophic failure of aged tires over the last 20 years. The group claims that these tire failures resulted in 233 deaths and 300 injuries.

According to News 10, an El Centro family is blaming the death of a teenage son on a tire that was allegedly sold to him as brand new, but was actually 12 years old. They allege that the tire failed and caused his car to flip, killing him and injuring his pregnant girlfriend. They have filed a lawsuit against the tire store that sold the tire.

So, how do you determine the age of your tire? Every tire has a DOT code. At the end of that DOT code you will find a four-digit number. The first two digits indicate the week the tire was manufactured and the two following digits indicate the year. So a tire with a “1412” listing would have been manufactured on the 14th week of 2012. Check out this link to find out where the DOT code is on a tire.

The product liability attorneys at the Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers in San Diego urge you to play it smart when purchasing tires. Ask the seller the age of the tire or ask to check the DOT code yourself. That decision could save your life or the life of a loved one.

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