What Are All Those Numbers on a Tire?

If you are in the market for new car, or looking to replace the tires on your vehicle you may want to know...

What are all those numbers on a tire?

The federal government requires that all tires sold in the United States contain a Department of Transportation (DOT) number. The DOT number contains very important information about your tire.

Tire DOT compressed.JPGPerhaps the most important piece of information contained in the DOT number is the date of manufacture.

Why is the date of manufacture on my tire important?

Tires are made of rubber and other components that break down over time, even without use. Tires older than 6 years can be potentially dangerous even if they look new, have adequate tread remaining or have never even been used.

How do I find the date of manufacture of my tire?

In order to determine the age of your tire, find the last three or four numbers of the DOT code. These numbers represent the week and year that your tire was manufactured. For example, if the last four numbers on your tire's DOT are 0809 then the tire was manufactured in the eighth week of 2009. Your tire is over 6 years old and now matter how good it may look, it should be replaced.

What if I am going to buy new tires from a tire retailer; do I still need to check the DOT?

Yes. Too many times tires are stored in warehouses for years after their date of manufacturer before they are sold as "new." Even if a tire has sat on a warehouse shelf without ever being used it is still likely that the rubber compounds in the tire have degraded and become substantially weakened over time. By checking the DOT on a tire you can tell how old the tire you are buying really is no matter what you are being told by the tire retailer.

A tire failure, especially on a highway where you are traveling at higher speeds can be catastrophic. You may have no control over your vehicle if you have a tire blowout and no way to avoid an accident. With summer approaching the roadways will be heating up contributing to a greater opportunity for tire failures. Now is a great time to check your DOT.

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