15th July 2020

Ask An Expert: Tyre Age

For this instalment of Ask An Expert we thought we'd answer one of the most commonly asked questions from classic owners: how often should I change my tyres and how can I tell how old my tyres are?

Typically, the average tyre lasts for around 30,000 miles. With a modern car or bike, the amount of annual mileage means that often the tread depth goes below the legal limit of 1.6mm long before the tyres suffer the ill-effects of age. However, it could take a classic a good decade to get to 30,000 miles so it's best to change your tyres around every 3-4 years.

You can tell how old your tyre is by checking the sidewall. Each tyre will have manufacturer markings, with the year it was made also on the side. This will be printed in the form of four numbers usually preceded by the letters DOT. These numbers represent the week number and year, so 3416 will be week 34, 2016 - the week commencing 22nd August 2016. If you still have some time left on your tyres, perhaps add a note in your diary 3 years from the expiry date to check the condition of your tyres.

If your tyres only have a three-digit number, this means that they were manufactured before 2000 and should be replaced as soon as possible.

Small cracks in the tyre sidewall are the most common signs of tyre ageing. This happens when UV light oxidises the rubber and dries it out. Tyres do contain anti-oxidising chemicals, but these are only released when the tyre is in motion. As a result, if the vehicle is not used frequently or is stored away ineffectively, the tyres will age more quickly.

Tyre ageing can affect the safety of the tyre and increase the risk of failure so it's really important to ensure that your classic's tyres (and spares too) haven't succumbed to premature ageing.

In the video below from 2017, Garry Stretton talks us through a tyre inspection on an MGB owned by our Managing Director, David Bond. Just wait until you hear how old his spare tyre was when he used it for a puncture!

If you have a classic question, put it to our experts by completing our short Ask An Expert form.

The information contained in this blog post is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such.