Friday, January 20, 2017
Tires Are Not Bananas, But They Do Age
Michelin Philippines has come out with a peculiar PR campaign advocating that there’s nothing wrong with using older tires. The French tire brand, through their Philippine office says that the DOT (the numeric code signifying the tire’s fabrication date) doesn’t dictate the safety of a tire, but rather proper tire maintenance. In fact, they’ve come up with a witty campaign for it: Tires are Not Bananas. Unfortunately, for motorists that’s not the entire truth.
Though carmakers, tire makers, and rubber manufacturers all differ in their opinions on a tire’s lifespan, nothing stops the effect of time on rubber. And that’s coming from Doug Gervin, Michelin’s director of product marketing. That said, modern tires do contain “anti-ozinant” compounds that help slow down the aging process.
While it’s true that un-inflated and un-mounted tires can last up to a decade, they still age nonetheless. Furthermore, factors such as heat and storage can dramatically reduce the lifespan of a tire.
The National Highway Transport and Safety Administration or NHTSA has found that tires age quicker in warmer climates and environmental conditions such as exposure to sunlight and coastal climates can hasten the aging process even more. Furthermore, storage also plays a role. A tire mounted as a spare basically bake in a miniature oven while spare tires mounted underneath a vehicle is exposed to dirt and the elements.
In fact, Strategic Safety, a safety consultancy firm based in the US, has urged the NHTSA to recommend replacing tires that are more than 6 years old. Furthermore, the same group says tire retailers should not sell tires in storage for more than 6 years from the date of manufacturer (that’s the DOT date in case you missed it).
With this in mind, resist the temptation to buy a used tire. Though used tires have become attractive to penny-pinching owners, it becomes a Russian roulette in terms of safety. Even a one-year old used tire can be dangerous if it was poorly maintained: run with low pressure, hit curbs repeatedly, etc. And when buying a brand-new one, always go for the fresher stuff. If tire dealers don’t store tires correctly, they may exhibit cracks on the sidewalls and tread. If that’s the case, pass.
Michelin Philippines does have a point in their campaign citing that tire maintenance is paramount. Consumers should rely on tire centers with good quality of service and practice proper tire storage as well as do proper tire care themselves such as maintaining the correct tire pressure, routinely inspect for damage and tread depth, and do tire rotation along with periodic wheel balancing and alignment.
So while tires do age, albeit slowly, thankfully Michelin does carry a 6-year warranty for replacement passenger car and light truck tires that begin on the date of installation. This is good news since a typical set of tires sit in storage for an average of two years.
Read the original press release below:
Michelin Tire Tip: Tire Age Does Not Matter, Tire Maintenance Does.
When you buy tires for your vehicle, do you look at the manufacture date and buy the tire with the latest DOT (tire’s fabrication date) because you think newer is better?
Chances are, you do. Used to reading food and medicine labels, we look for the manufacture or Best Before date because we have been conditioned to think there is an expiry date on everything.
Not so with tires. Unlike food, or medicine, or that fruit, the banana, that easily shows when it’s time to toss it, you do not need to look for the newest tires to ensure your safety on the road.
In fact the most important date to remember for your car tires is not its fabrication date, but the date they were installed on your vehicle. That’s when its aging process starts. A tire starts to age once it is installed and operates on a vehicle. Here’s why.
When the tires are already part of the vehicle, they are subjected to high stresses of stop and go, high speeds, sudden breaking, friction, contact with sharp objects, exposure to extreme temperatures, damage from the elements, heavy loads or simply, under inflation. Even when the vehicle is stored, the wheels may suffer. Tire pressure is affected, that is why correct tire pressure should be checked regularly.
Before car tires are installed on the vehicle, they are uninflated, do not carry any load, and deal only with minor temperature fluctuations in their storage facility, so they do not deteriorate. Tires are designed to provide good, reliable service on vehicles for many years, no matter their manufacture date.
Michelin has launched its Tires Are Not Bananas campaign to correct the misunderstanding about tires and their manufacture date. Michael Nunag, Michelin’s Chief Representative to the Philippines says the misunderstanding can be dangerous because consumers wrongly focus on the DOT instead of on correct safety maintenance after a tire is installed. Consumers may also wrongly select tire dealers based on new stocks instead of looking for quality of service.
Three studies were conducted in Korea, Germany and Saudi Arabia that showed no difference in performance between newly manufactured tires and tires that have been in storage for 3 years, said Nunag. “The Saudi Arabia study showed that a tire used on a vehicle for one year had equivalent aging to a tire in storage for 10 years. In terms of the characteristics of the tread rubber, it took 20 years in storage at 40C to reach the same characteristics as the tires used at 40,000 Km showing that tires do age more rapidly when used than when stored.”
In South Korea, the Department of Customer Protection performed a safety test on new and unused 3-year old tires. Both tires were subjected to high-speed tests and stepped-speed tests. No difference was detected between the two tires, Nunag shared.
In Germany, the German motorist organization, IADAC compared newly made tires to tires with three years storage in terms of rolling resistance. The study found identical rolling resistance (the ability to stop) on the old and new tires.
Nunag said Michelin recommends that Michelin tires older than 10 years on cars should be retired. “The recommendation is precautionary and not technically based, “ he said. “Tires endure lots of different stresses during their life on a vehicle. Sometimes the vehicle may be out of alignment, or the tire may be under inflated. Road obstacles, potholes, floods, extreme heat in the summer all take their toll on the tires.”
It is not on tire age, but on correct tire maintenance that vehicle owners should be meticulous about, Nunag said.. “Maintaining correct tire pressure, proper alignment, inspection for damages and tread depth measurements is important.”
Nunag said this is why Michelin continues to conduct its Michelin: Safe on the Road campaign, a Michelin global initiative that promotes road safety and mobility by increasing public consciousness about correct tire pressure and other safety concerns. Nunag said Michelin has a full six years warranty for replacement passenger and light truck tires that begins on the date of tire installation.