A common product liability issue is the danger caused by car and truck tires that are aged 5 years or more. Tires, like any other rubber product, have a limited service life regardless of the amount of tread depth left and regardless of how much you used the tire. Tire manufacturers have known for decades that tires become dangerous as they age past 5 years. After 5 years, the tire becomes vulnerable to having a tread separation blow out failure that can cause a driver to lose all control of the car, SUV or truck and have an accident. As tires age, they deteriorate internally but usually no damage or problems can be seen by looking at the outside of the tire.
Research conducted by Safety Research and Strategies, Inc. that was presented to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012 identified 252 incidents in whcih tires older than 6 years experienced tread separations, with most resulting in loss-of-control rollover crashes. These incidents were the cause of 233 fatalities and 300 injuries.
As of 2014, several vehicle manufacturers recommend tire replacement at 6 years from tire manufacture regardless of the amount of use or tread left on the tire. This recommendation also applies to the spare tire, which can be a serious danger when used on the car after sitting in the trunk for more than five years.
When purchasing a new or used vehicle, or used tires, it is important to know when the tire was manufactured. Each tire has a Department of Transportation (DOT) code on the side that gives the week and year that the tire was manufactured. This 10 to 12 digit code is contained on either side of the tire, but not usually both sides. For tires made after 2000, the last four numbers in the code contain the manufacture week and year. If the last four digits of the code are “5107” then the tire was made in the 51st week of the year 2007. Tires made before 2000 will have only 3 digits at the end of the code for the week and year of manufacture. The numbers “408” at the end of the code means the tire was made in the 40th week of the year 1998. If your tire is older than 5 years, replace it.
Law Offices of Mathys & Schneid continues to handle product defect cases involving car accidents caused by defective products including aged tires. Defective tires cases typically involve rollover car accidents with brain injury or wrongful death to the occupants. Law Offices of Mathys & Schneid handles tire defect cases in Illinois and throughout the United States.