Why many tire shops won't touch older tires

Have a set of tires on your car that still have plenty of tread left, but are a few years old? More and more car owners are learning their car's tires are too old to be patched, rotated or even balanced anymore.

One woman says a local tire shop flat out refused to touch her tires, and her experience should be a warning to everyone with tires that are a few years old.

Shop refuses to touch it

Linda Londner showed the $167 new tire she had to buy after running over a nail near her Anderson Township, Ohio home.

Londner thought repairing her old one would be no problem.

"It looked like a flat roof nail was stuck in it," she said. "It was in the center, so I knew it wasn't near any sidewall," which would make it unrepairable.

But even though it was in the "fixable" area of the tire, she said, the tire shop refused to touch it.

"I asked what was the reason, and they told me because my car tire was over six years old. The salesman told me it was a new law," she said. "That they cannot fix and put back on a tire that's over six years old."

So we researched both Federal and state tire statutes and found there is no such law.

No law, but new policies

However, major car manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Buick, Dodge, Ford, Jeep, Mercedes Benz, Toyota and VW now recommend on their websites and in owner handbooks that tires be replaced after six years.

As a result, many tire chains won't touch seven-year-old tires because of liability issues. 

It all goes back to the Ford Explorer/Firestone tire rollover issues from 1997 to 2001, which resulted in stricter tire laws across the country.

This might also be an issue if you plan to buy a six-year-old used car. Those tires might look fine, with plenty of tread remaining, but if you need them worked on, you might be out of luck.

Repair shop owner Scott Miller, of Nick Miller's Auto Service, said some tire stores will still patch a seven- to nine-year-old tire, but not many anymore.

"If you buy a six-year-old car and a month later, you need a tire plugged, now you need a new tire on a car that you thought had good tires on it," he said.

And if it is an all-wheel drive vehicle, they may require you to replace all four tires.

Your options

So what can you do? If a shop refuses to touch your six- or seven-year-old tires, you can try another shop, which might not be so strict. Despite what some shops say, there is no law pertaining to tire expiration dates.

(Learn how to decode the manufacturing date that is stamped on the side of every tire.)

The rubber trade association, as well as Michelin and Continental, said tires can be safely used for up to 10 years, provided the tread is not worn and there is no visible dry rot.
    
But automakers say those seven-year-old tires could still be unsafe, and they suggest that like Linda Londner, you buy new ones for your family's safety.    

As always, don't waste your money.

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