The question about replacing tyres – even if they are not showing signs of excessive wear or damage –
was raised by a Sunday Times reader in the ingear driving supplement yesterday.
MD from London asked: “Several tyre specialists have advised me that I need to change the tyres on my car every three years, regardless of the mileage covered. They say that the tyres dry out over time, which can lead to small cracks in the outer walls, making them dangerous when driving at speed. Is this true?”
Motoring expert Dave Pollard replied: “The rubber compounds used in tyres degrade over time through exposure to sunlight and ozone, regardless of usage, but, according to TyreSafe, the tyre safety organisation, there is no evidence to suggest that tyres have a three-year lifespan.
“Continental Tyres told us that tyres age differently depending on mileage (obviously the higher the mileage, the quicker they degrade, but be aware that tyres that are rarely used can also degrade more quickly than those that do an average mileage of about 10,000 miles a year).
“Not maintaining your tyres at the right pressures can also reduce their lifespan, as can the quality of the road surface. Most tyre manufacturers suggest that when tyres get to 10 years old, regardless of wear, they should be replaced.
“If you”re not sure of the age of your tyres you can find it on the sidewall as a numerical code in a box. For tyres made after 1999 there are four digits: the first two show the week of manufacture (from 01 to 52) and the second two numbers show the year. Thus, if the figures in the box are 2804, the tyre was made in the 28th week of 2004.
Before 2000, three digits were used (with just one digit for the year, so “8” would be 1998, for example) but by now such tyres will be well past their best and should not be used.
As a general guide, you should check your tyre pressures once a week and at the same time check for signs of ageing, such as cracking or crazing of the tread or sidewall. A deterioration in performance, such as poor braking and cornering, could also be a sign that you need to replace your tyres.”
Denna Bowman, Head Office