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Having a spare tire or two is a great investment, especially if you drive a lot on and off the road. Just keep track of how old they are. If they’ve been gathering dust in your trunk, spare tire well, or garage for several years, they might not be safe to use.  The easiest way to check this is to look for their expiration date.

When Do Tires Expire?

Tires usually expire six years from their manufacture date after which they’re no longer safe for use.

Unfortunately, not all sellers know about this condition. So, when you’re buying new tires, ask for the newest tires available and check the tire expiration date yourself.

How to Find a Tire’s Expiration Date

To know how old a tire is, you must find its tire date code. Tires manufactured after 2000 usually have their manufacturing date stamped on their outer sidewall.

car tire with date code visible
The date code on tires is usually a series of letters and numbers inside a raised rectangular box. The four-digit number code indicates your tire’s “birth date” in (WWYY) week and year format.

When checking tires, scan their sidewall in a clockwise direction until you find the code.

The date code on tires is usually a series of letters and numbers inside a raised rectangular box. The four-digit number code indicates your tire’s “birth date” in (WWYY) week and year format.

For example, if the date code is 0919, the tire was manufactured on the 9th week of the year 2019. That means the tire was probably manufactured in the last week of February 2019.

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So if we follow the six-year rule, the sample tire will expire in the last week of February 2025.

Why Does Tire Age Matter?

Your tires are made of a complex blend of synthetic and natural rubber that can degrade over time. Storing tires improperly can make these materials degrade faster than usual, shortening their service life even before use.

Can I Still Buy Old Tires?

Buying tires that were just recently manufactured is not always an option. You can buy old tires as long as they haven’t exceeded their car tire expiration date.

When shopping from a local shop, check how they store their tires. Ideally, they should be kept in a cool and dry place indoors.

If you bought three-year-old tires, you must check their sidewalls for hairline cracks regularly. Replace them immediately once you see any signs of wear.

Factors that Can Affect Your Tires’ Lifespan

Ideally, tires should last around 60,000 to 75,000 miles before they need to be replaced. That’s about four to five years. However, certain factors can affect your tires’ lifespan. Here are some of them:

Natural Wear

Tires wear out naturally. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), a tire is unsafe if its tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch.

You can easily check your tire tread depth using a penny. Insert the penny into one of your tire’s tread grooves. Make sure Abraham Lincoln’s head is upside down and facing towards you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it might be time to think about replacing your tires.

If you’re going to do this test, make sure to check the smallest or shallowest groove in your tire. Checking the middle tread is not enough to determine a tire’s condition.

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Road Conditions

The conditions of the roads you drive your vehicle on can affect its tires’ lifespan regardless of their expiration date.

For example, driving on roads with a lot of potholes and broken pavements can damage your tires. They can also cause misalignment and suspension issues, which can contribute to tire wear.

Weather Conditions

Your tires will easily wear out if they’re not designed for extreme weather conditions in your area.

For example, driving through snowy or icy roads using regular tires can cause them to wear out easily. It’s also not safe because these tires can’t offer much traction in slippery conditions.

Driving Habits

Aggressive driving can significantly affect your tire’s lifespan, so avoid hard cornering, quick acceleration, and sudden braking. Doing so will also reduce the risk of road accidents.

Maintenance

Your tires will wear out faster if you don’t practice proper tire maintenance, so check your tire pressure regularly and ensure it stays at the ideal levels. You can usually find the recommended tire pressure on the inside of the driver’s door jamb.

It’s also important to keep your tires’ alignment in check. Rotating them regularly helps. It’s recommended to rotate your tires every 5000-6000 miles. However, it’s crucial to check if the tires are directional or if the front and rear tires have different sizes before proceeding with the rotation.

What to Look for When Buying New Tires

Aside from the tire’s expiration date, here are other things to consider when buying a replacement.

Tire Type

There are many tire types available on the market. Choose the ones that fit your typical driving conditions and lifestyle. For example, choose heavy-duty tires if you often go on off-roading adventures.

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Brand and Quality

Aftermarket tires perform just as well as their OE counterparts without the expensive price tag. If you can’t decide on an aftermarket tire brand, you can read product reviews online or ask your mechanic for recommendations. Avoid cheap and low-quality tires because they typically have a shorter lifespan compared to premium ones.

Cost

If you’re buying your tires from a physical shop, assume that there are additional charges, especially if you’re having your tires installed in the same shop. The cost usually covers the installation and calibration of your new tires. Some shops will also charge you disposal fees for your old tires.

Warranty 

You must also consider the warranty coverage of the tires you’re going to buy. Check if they cover tire repairs and rotations.

Where to Buy Top-Notch Tires?

To ensure you’re buying high-quality tires, source them from reputable shops. There are many local shops and dealers that sell good tires, so you won’t run out of options. You can also source your tires from reputable online sellers.

Sourcing your tires from your local dealership is a convenient option. However, it can be pricey. If you’re looking for more budget-friendly options without sacrificing quality, exploring part sellers online is your best bet.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Tony Harlin is a Master Gas and Diesel Diagnostic Technician with over 18 years of experience. He works full-time at a large independent automotive shop as a driveability and repair technician working on all types of vehicles with a focus on diesels. ASE certifications include A1-A9, L1 and L2, as well as X1.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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