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Lebowski

Is it safe to drive on 20 year old tires?

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I did a little research on date codes and it looks like in the year 2000 they went to a 4 digit date code instead of three. The code on the Michelins on the '86 Regal I just bought is "261" which I believe stands for the 26th week of 1991. The date code on the Goodyears on my '61 Mercury, which I bought in June, range from "5110" (51st week of 2010) to "1911" (19th week of 2011). There is a small amount of cracking on the Michelins but plenty of tread. According to the Carfax on the Buick, it had 48,000 miles on it in February 1994 when the title was transferred from the deceased husband to his wife. That means she put 4500 miles on it in 17 years because the car had 52,500 miles when I bought it in Muncie, Indiana on Thursday (and then drove it 190 miles back to the Louisville area). I'd like to keep driving on the Michelins for a couple more years. What do you guys think? (By the way, I ordered the plastic spacer pieces that go between the bumpers and the body and also a can of yellow beige paint so that problem should be fixed by this time next week.)

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Edited by Lebowski (see edit history)

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Yes if you stay under 35 mph :D

Seriously, I've seen the damage a steel belted radial can cause when it comes apart -- one rear quarter with significant damage. Luckily he (it wasn't me or my car) didn't loose control when it happened. But it happened so quickly the damage was done before he could even get stopped. No warning, no vibration, no lumps on the tire beforehand that could be seen.

Is it worth being hurt, or hurting someone else? Ultimately it's your decision, but my vote is "NO".

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I did a little research on date codes and it looks like in the year 2000 they went to a 4 digit date code instead of three. The code on the Michelins on the '86 Regal I just bought is "261" which I believe stands for the 26th week of 1991. The date code on the Goodyears on my '61 Mercury, which I bought in June, range from "5110" (51st week of 2010) to "1911" (19th week of 2011). There is a small amount of cracking on the Michelins but plenty of tread. According to the Carfax on the Buick, it had 48,000 miles on it in February 1994 when the title was transferred from the deceased husband to his wife. That means she put 4500 miles on it in 17 years because the car had 52,500 miles when I bought it in Muncie, Indiana on Thursday (and then drove it 190 miles back to the Louisville area). I'd like to keep driving on the Michelins for a couple more years. What do you guys think? (By the way, I ordered the plastic spacer pieces that go between the bumpers and the body and also a can of yellow beige paint so that problem should be fixed by this time next week.)

Take the car on the freeway and let us know. If we don't hear from you,...:eek:

Seriously, everyone has an opinion on this topic but I wouldn't go beyond 7 years before replacing a radial tire. Possibly a little longer if you live in a cooler climate.

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I wouldn't risk it. About a year and a half ago we had a radial let go on our RV. Did a lot of damage. Luckily it was the inside dual on the driver's side. Could have been a front tire instead. The tires were made in April, 2000. The rig was a 2001 chassis and a 2002 coach that we bought the day after Thanksgiving, 2001.

The tire blew about a year and a half ago. There was plenty of tread left and what looked like minor cracking on the sidewalls. Bill had planned to replace them early the next spring. Turns out there were large cracks in the tread area where it was harder to see.

Your life, the lives of anyone with you and anyone else on the road are at stake. Bite the bullet and get new tires.

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It is generally not a good idea to drive on tires that are over 5 years old. There was a change in the rubber formulations several years ago that caused the 5 year rule of thumb. Basically the rubber is just not what it used to be mainly because the amount of silicon in the formula has been reduced and replaced by water in manufacturing processes, at least that is what I've been told by more than one experienced independent tire dealer. The epitome of planned obsolescence or an example of government interference over environmental reasons?

Now with that said, I just drove 1,200 miles on a set of B.F. Goodrich radial tires that were placed on the car I was driving in 1998. Those tires show no typical signs of age or weather cracking though 13 years old. The spare in the trunk was a Michelin original equipment tire and it too looked fantastic though 33 years old. On the other hand, I just looked at a set of Michelin's on one of our cars that are now just reaching 5 years old. The sidewalls on those tires look like hell from age cracking that looks like little diamond shapes measuring about 3/8" from point to point. I'm sure these tires are at the end of their functional life and on the verge of giving it up, they will be replaced next week. Conversely, old, old, bias ply tires on my '58 Mercury look great. No sidewall cracking to be seen anywhere.

Was I stupid to have driven a 4700 lb car 1,200 miles on 13 year old tires? Nope, made a rational decision on the best information available, which turned out to be accurate. Those BFGs will be comming off though as the white sidewall is not right for the car. Lots of fun these days trying to find whitewalls!

Edited by Jim_Edwards (see edit history)

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Take the car on the freeway and let us know.

We drove it back 190 miles from Muncie to Louisville in 3 1/2 hours on Thursday in the rain with no problem. I'll take it to Walmart in the morning and get a set of Goodyears for it. Thanks for the comments.... :)

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I did about 120 miles a set S3's from WWII back in the early 70's before any blew , a half ton '34 International is very forgiving at 45 MPH.

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The answer is no. I recently replaced the tires on my '51 Dodge pickup. They were a little over twenty years old, and had virtually no wear. The treads looked new. But the tires were deteriorated to the point where the truck would get flats just sitting. I didn't worry about hauling yard waste or firewood here on the place, going 5 or 10 mph, but I was afraid to drive it out on the road.

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I agree with everyone else and since you are getting new tires, I guess you do too! That said, the General radials on my '71 LeSabre are now 11 years old with just a little over 5,000 miles on them (I put them on when my uncle gave me the car). I've only driven it 70 miles since getting it out last April and next weekend, it's time to put it back to bed.

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A few years ago, I revived two cars in my storage shop. The tires looked good and held air, despite having been in one place for about 15 years. There's NO question that I'm going to put new tires on them. Why??? Flat-spots!! For them, 35mph would be too fast to have any semblance of "comfort" and a "smooth ride".

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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NOT NOWAY IN HE!!. Let me show you the results of that decision. This WAS the front drivers side tire on a 29' class C motorhome. Fortunatly none of us was hurt but it cost me almost $400 to have a repair truck come out with a new tire. The shredded tire was my spare.

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Edited by AlK (see edit history)

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It's only safe if your next trip is to the jack stands you intend use to swap out the old tires with new ones.

On second thought, it'd probably be safe to drive...but only to the nearest tire store!

Please do everyone (and yourself) a favor and pop for some new tires. ;)

TG

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The tires on my Amphicar are 10 years old. Long way from worn out, but the sidewalls show many cracks and all have slow leaks (tube type) as the tubes are also 10 years old. My wheels are NOT tubless lock type rims, so I won't run w/o tubes. I will be replacing them in the spring when I get her on the road and in the water again. I wouldn't trust my life or anyone else's to older tires.

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I know this is an old thread but I had to reply. I have a '92 deville that I bough last year with 47,000 miles and original '91 whitewalls. The car now has 64,000 on it, most highway driving at 70+ mph. I feel very comfortable driving on these tires. If the tires were taken care of they'll be fine but in most cases there is extensive rotting and they should be replaced. If you still want to drive on them just make sure you really inspect them inside and out. Also, I've had brand new tires blow at random before.

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Edited by Harpreet (see edit history)

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I have 2004 tires on my Mustang but they are Mich. and the car has been garaged. They show some minor cracking but are still safe. I have 2007 Kumhos on the Mark V and they still look like new no cracks, I also have 2007 Mohave's (from America's tire) on my 1941 Dodge and they look great. I also have 2007 Goodyears on my 1948 Continental, and they still look like new! On the Corsica they are from 2009 and are showing some cracking (but the tread is still good) and the 1991 Lesabre I have 2010 Hancook tires that still look like brand new! Now on the 1921 Chevy I have a 50 year old tire as a spare (it could be older!) at one point it was on the car but it began to loose the tread on the road! The other tires are probably 10-20 years old!My grandmother's 2002 Impala has the orig. tires but, they are in bad shape and weather cracked with only 16k on them! They need to go!

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The car now has 64,000 on it, most highway driving at 70+ mph. I feel very comfortable driving on these tires.

I'd get me some new tires if I was you. They aren't expensive for your car and if you have a blow-out up front you will lose one of your plastic fenders. I've seen it many times.

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My 1939 JD A tractor goes a Death Defying 8 MPH wide open and has 60 + year old rear tires. I ain't about to change them. No Way, No How, till they pop. They're inflated to an extremly high pressuer of 12 P.S.I. And I keep her off of them fast flyin interstate highways unless she is on a trailer. Dandy Dave!

Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)

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Guest my3buicks

About 4 years ago we took a 79 Riv with 28K original miles & tires that was always garaged, had never been out in the winter or sat out in the weather to speak of on a trip from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg, by the time we got back within an hour of Pittsburgh it felt like we were in a blender the car was shaking and wobbling so bad - a new set of tires quickly solved that issue. This car was impeccably cared for from day one and always out of the weather and it made no difference, they were still old tires.

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Just an observation of the above posts, Most suggest to buy new tires, many said they would ,but only one actually did.

I bought the set of Goodyears the next day like I said I would....

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NO is the answer if it's radials you are asking about. LOOK at this

picture.

This is a 8 year old Coker wide white radial. They all looked great

and were used failrly often for Sunday rides, but when taken on the

Interstate, they showed their age. Replaced all 4.

You can't judge a tire by it's looks, but you can by it's age.

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I grew up in Dad's tire recapping shop. I know then, 1960s, no one considered the age of a tire when deciding whether to recap or not. Of course recaps are no longer used on passenger cars but they are on tractor trailers, concrete trucks etc. I wonder if there is a rule (or law) as to when a truck tire is "out of date" and can no longer be recapped. Dad capped tires for a fellow who transported house trailers. He recapped the same set of 6 tires at least 12 times.

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10 year old tires, no.

20 year old tires, I'd drive on 'em.

Maybe not cross country, but around town and 10 miles at a stretch on the freeway.

Like has been said, the rubber formulations have changed.

I've got 15 year old tires on my '96 Roadmaster wagon and we drove it from Cincy to Boston last year.

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