How to Determine Car Tire Age

How to Determine Car Tire Age


Old tires on your car can be dangerous as they are prone to falling apart even if from the outside they appear to be new or not well worn. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has established regulations that all tire manufacturers must follow including embedding the manufacturing date on them.

Are your tires old? How can you tell if they should be replaced besides showing visible signs of wear and tear?

Date Stamped

The DOT has made it easy for consumers to confirm the age of their tires, mandating that tires have the week and year they were manufactured stamped on their sidewalls.[1]  For tires made before 2000, there is a three digit code at the end of a string of letters and numbers starting with DOT. For example, 217 means that your tires were made in the 21st week of 1997 or around the first of June 1997.

Please note that on older tires that information may reside on the inner wall of your sidewall — not very helpful! For good reason in later years this information was placed on the outerwalls.

For tires made since 2000, the coding has changed to four digits. For example, if the string ends with 2409 as shown above, then those tires were made in the 24th week of 2009 or in the middle of June 2009.

Aged Tires

Now that you know how old your tires are, what do older tires mean to you if anything? Plenty, actually. The photo shows a tire made in June 2009, but I didn’t purchase them until nearly one year later. Even though never used, the “born on” date is when tires begin to age. I won’t be keeping the car long enough to replace the tires again, but had I known how important the date was when I purchased said tires, I might have insisted on a newly made batch.

When sitting on shelves unsold year after year, tires can look new, but they’re subject to drying out and rotting.[2] When tires age they become subject to catastrophic failure. In Britain, the maximum age for tires is just six years which means that they’ve “expired” in the eyes of the government.


[1] Tire Aging

[2] A Few Things to Know When Buying New Tires

Adv. — Are you thinking of purchasing a new vehicle? Visit to research the vehicle right for your needs.


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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".