Tires older than 6 years old should not be used on motor vehicles since it can lead to tread separation and catastrophic failure. Since 2001 the British Rubber Manufactures Association (BRMA) have recommended: “BRMA members strongly recommend that unused tyres should not be put into service if they are over 6 years old and that all tyres should be replaced 10 years from the date of their manufacture.” This is incredible since BRMA includes all the tire manufacturers who also sell in the United States. No such warnings have been given by tire manufacturers and retailers to consumers in the United States. Retailing giants in the U.S. like Walmart and Sears routinely sell tires as new in their stores that are routinely older than 6 years and sometimes as old as 17 years. This is unconscionable!
Like any other rubber product, tires have a limited service life regardless of tread depth and use. Tire age can be determined through decoding of the required DOT number printed on the side of a tire, but it is of no help to consumers because you must know the code to interpret when the tire was manufactured. Experts that I have worked with say that tire age is a silent killer because a consumer can purchase a brand new tire from a reputable retailer or outlet and have no idea that at the time of purchase the tire is already defective.
Ford Motor Company added a 6 year tire replacement recommendation, regardless of tread wear, to all 2006 owner’s manuals. Finally, on June 2, 2008, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a Consumer Advisory warning that aged tires, regardless of tread use, are subject to greater stress increasing the likelihood of catastrophic failure. Recent investigative reports point to corporate neglect and government inaction as the root cause of American consumers buying new tires that are defecive at the time of purchase.
Attorneys reviewing cases involoving tread separation must be alert to and agressively evaluate the age of the tire as a possible cause of the separation. Insurance industry data reflect that 84% of tire claims arise in tires over 6 years old. Securing the tire and retaining the appropriate tire safety experts are essential first steps for the attorney to take when pursuing these product liability claims. Tire manufacturers, automotive companies, and their retailers have long been aware of the dangers posed by marketing tires older than 6 years old, but have failed to warn consumers despite the deadly consequences. If tread separation occurs on a tire older than 6 years with deadly consequences, sue the bastards!