How To Read Tire Date Codes: What You Need To Know

September 19, 2023

How To Read Tire Date Codes: What You Need To Know

When it comes to buying new tires, understanding their expiration date is essential for your safety and the longevity of your vehicle. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about how to read tire date codes, where the date code is located, what it means, and other important considerations.

What is a Tire Date Code?

The tire date code serves as a vital piece of information, consisting of a four-digit code that reveals the age of a tire. Understanding the age of your tire is critical for ensuring safety. It allows you to strategically plan and allocate resources for future tire replacements. This code is part of a broader series of numbers referred to as the Tire Identification Number (TIN) or DOT (Department of Transportation). Being aware of this code empowers you to make informed decisions about tire maintenance, thereby prioritizing your well-being on the road.

Tire Identification Number

To locate the Tire Identification Number (TIN) on your tire, you’ll need to look at the tire sidewall, which is the outer layer of rubber on your new tires. You should be able to spot a series of letters and numbers stamped into it. This tire identification number or TIN is unique in that it indicates when the tire was manufactured as well as other important information about its construction.

This will be made up of a four- or five-digit code written on the sidewall of your tire. These numbers represent:

  1. the tire manufacturer
  2. the tire size
  3. the tire construction type
  4. when it was manufactured (the final four digits)

Tire DOT Code

When you find the TIN, look for the "Tire DOT Code” — a combination of letters and numbers that typically starts with the letter "D", followed by two to four numbers. The Department of Transportation (DOT) uses this code to track tire production and safety recalls. The last four digits of the Tire DOT Code represent the week and year that your tire was manufactured.

The first two digits in the TIN represent the week and year of the tire manufacture date. The following two numbers refer to their plant code, while any remaining numbers will be used for extra identifiers like size or type of tire.

Tire Date Code / Tire Manufactured Date

The final four digits of your tire’s TIN represent when the tire was manufactured. The first two numbers indicate the week and the last two numbers indicate the year. For example, if you have a set of tires with “2505” as their last four digits, this means that they were manufactured in the 25th week of 2005.

Tires Manufactured After 2000

For tires that have been manufactured after 2000, the date code appears as a four-digit number. The first two digits represent the week of manufacture, while the last two represent the year. For example, if you see a four-digit number such as “0417” on your tire — this would indicate that the tire was made in either April or July 2017.

Tires Manufactured Before 2000

For tires manufactured before 2000, the date code appears as a three-digit number. The first digit represents the year of manufacture, while the last two represent the week. For example, if you see a three-digit number such as “914” on your tire — this would indicate that the tire was made in either September or December 1994.

How Long Do Tires Last?

In general, most tires will only last for about six or seven years before needing to be replaced. Keep in mind, however, that the time frame may vary depending on how often you use and maintain your tires. If you’re using them for heavy off-roading or other tough conditions, they won’t last as long as if you were just driving around town.

It's also important to remember that even if a tire looks brand new from the outside, that doesn't mean it's safe to use. With time, the rubber will start to deteriorate, which can lead to reduced tread depth and lower performance. To ensure your safety on the road, you should always check the date code so you know exactly when your tires were last manufactured.

Tire Aging and Maintenance

It’s important to note that tires are subject to aging even when they are not being used. As a tire ages, its materials break down and it becomes more prone to blowouts or other damage. Therefore, even if you don’t use your tires frequently, be sure to regularly check the date code on them so you can replace them when necessary. You should also remember to regularly check the pressure, alignment, and balance of your tires as part of routine maintenance. This will help ensure their safety and performance over time.

Tire Pressure

Maintaining the correct tire pressure is a pivotal aspect of tire aging and maintenance. The tire pressure significantly impacts the performance, safety, and lifespan of tires. Under-inflated tires can cause excess heat build-up, leading to premature aging, tire failure, and even blowouts. Over-inflation, on the other hand, makes tires more susceptible to damage from road hazards like potholes and debris. Regularly checking and adjusting your tire pressure ensures optimal road contact, promotes even tread wear, and enhances fuel efficiency. Importantly, it reduces the risk of tire-related accidents, providing a safe driving experience.

Tire Tread Wear

In addition to the date of manufacture, you’ll also want to pay attention to the tread wear and check for any signs of damage. It’s important to inspect your tires periodically for signs of visible wear, such as bald spots, cracking or bulging, it's also a good idea to rotate your tires every 5,000-8,000 miles or as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Rotating the tires helps promote even wear and proper tire performance.

It's important to remember that even if your tire has not reached its expiration date yet, it can still be hazardous if the tread is worn down. If you notice any abnormalities, such as bulging or cracking, it’s best to replace the tires immediately.

Staying Safe and On The Road

Reading tire date codes is an important step in ensuring your safety and extending the life of your tires. By regularly checking for signs of wear and tear, you can spot any issues before they become dangerous. Knowing the TIN helps you keep track of when each tire was made and how long it can stay in service before needing to be replaced. With just a few simple steps, you can ensure your tires remain in great condition for as long as possible. So, now that you know how to read tire date codes, get shopping at Pay Later Tires for name-brand winter tires, summer tires, performance tires, or whatever type of tire you need!

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