Are your tires safe?
Are your tires safe? Video by fox4now.comvideo
Something we use everyday could be putting our lives in danger and we could be at fault.
Four in Your Corner investigator Kelli Stegeman is looking into the problem of aging tires and what stores are selling you.
"It's kind of scary what you're driving next to down U.S. 41 or I-75 knowing that person might have tires that could blow at any minute," said Steve Joslin of Tuffy Auto Service.
He knows all too well the importance of finding the right tires.
Every day we get in our car and put our lives in the hands of our tires.
It's a thought that makes Joslin shudder.
"A lot of the tires that we get in here shouldn't even be driving down the road," he said.
Yet, there are as many opinions on tire safety as there are miles of roads in Florida.
"Tires that are 5 years old or older are considered unsafe," Joslin said.
"I would also be concerned if I had tires on my vehicle that were older than 6 years," said Pete Candela with AAA.
"There's no technical data that says a tire isn't going to work simply because of a certain passage of time," said Dan Zielinski, a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association, a group that represents tire makers.
"What consumers need to be aware of is that a tire's service life is dependent on how its used," Zielinski said. "Whether or not they've been maintained properly and how the tire is stored."
Zielinski says the association looked at more than 14,000 discarded tires and thousands of claims of tire issues filed by RMA members to find a link between bad tires and their age.
"We didn't see any," he said.
"I think there's enough information out there now to where I don't know that that's exactly accurate any more," opposed Pete Candela.
Candela heads up the Approved Auto Repair program with AAA. From what he's witnessed as a technician for more than 30 years, Pete doesn't see eye-to-eye with RMA's stance.
"I would be very concerned with purchasing a tire that is over a year-old on a shelf," said Candela.
All of these differing opinions may be overwhelming, but there is a way to put the power back into the consumer's hand.
"I show people probably 4 to 7 times a week a date on that tire, they had no clue that tires had dates on them," said Joslin.
It's right on the DOT number on the side of the tire. At the end of the number you will find 4 numbers encased in an oval. The first two numbers represent the week in which the tire was made. The last two numbers represent the year it was made.
Stegeman went to local stores and look at the dates on dozens of tires.
At this Walmart at U.S. 41 and 6 Mile Cypress she found a 'new' tire for sale that was made in 2008.
Another tire at a Walmart in North Fort Myers on Pine Island Road was made in 2007.
Walmart had this to say: "Walmart is committed to providing our customers with safe tires and we comply with all National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards. It's important to note that the 2007 display tire you found meets all the guidelines for safety. While our tire inventory typically turns over more quickly than that, this is still a safe tire which has never been mounted nor driven and has been stored indoors."
At a Tires Plus on U.S. 41 near Alico Road, there was another tire manufactured in 07.
Bridgestone oversees Tire's Plus: "Tires Plus stores inventory their tire stock regularly during the year. Tires that are five years old or approaching five years of age are removed from inventory, disabled (cut), and disposed of. Each store is then given credit for the tires that have been removed from its inventory. Removal of tires pursuant to this process does not necessarily mean the subject tires are damaged, impaired or otherwise un-useable. Such process is not required by any governmental mandate or industry standard. This process was implemented and is followed as part of our company's internal control policies. In your case, if the tire that you found were to be entered into the system for a purchase, a note would notify the sales clerk to scrap the tire."
"Know how to read the date on the tires, and ask questions if you're purchasing tires and don't just accept they're brand new."
Those we talked to say most important thing you can do to keep your tires road-worthy is regular maintenance.
Here are some tips from the experts in our story:
-Rotate your tires every 6,000 miles
-Align the front end every year
-Check air pressure monthly
-Inspect for dry rot, cracks and tread
-If there is any uncertainty, go see a professional