scott12180

Old tires— too old?

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If you are considering putting old tires on a car, how old is too old?  

 

Say these are brand new never been on a car. Say these have been stored well with no issues.  Do tires go bad simply due to age?  Could a 40 year old tire, for instance, that’s never been mounted and has been stored well still be good as new to drive on?

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Some say yes, some no. I am using 9 year old tires on my 1980 Plymouth Volare with no troubles.  I look for dry rot, splits, and bulges.  If those are present, good bye tires.  I don't think I would use tires that I had not either bought new or really trusted the seller as you don't know how they have been cared for. Storage makes a difference.

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Tires age by oxidation. UV light, inflation with oxygen-containing air and high temperatures speed up the process. The tire will harden and crack. Inflated modern tires often fail on the inside first because there is more oxygen in there (the tire is inflated to two or more atmospheres pressure). If the tires have been stacked on their side, = flat, one on top of the other, expect them to be shot, esp. those on the bottom. They will crack circumferentially.

 

I would expect a 40 year old tire to be pretty hard and stiff.

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Tires are the #1 most important safety feature on your car and new tires are cheap insurance. Why take a chance?

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My rule of thumb is ten years.

You always see twenty year old trailers and other rigs that don't get miles on them with blown tires along side of the road.

I had a horrible experience once with a low mileage motor home that had almost no wear on the tires.

And of coarse they don't blow anywhere near a tire shop.

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Tires lose half their strength after 5 years whether they are on a car or not, and whether they are used or not. In fact they may be in better shape if they are used enough to maintain their flexibility.

 

40 year old tires might be ok for a display model or one that is transported by truck or trailer. If you drive the car be safe and invest in new tires. I know of some old car owners who kept driving on old tires until they got a blowout that tore up their fender and undercarriage causing thousands in damage. Luckily no one was hurt.

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My Opinion is for Radials, replace after 5-10 years depending on how they are stored. Since Bias Ply have stronger side walls, you might get more time especially in early cars that not driven over 35 MPH. Any thoughts? I have a 09 Maxwell that does not run well yet so I have not driven it on the road but the previous owner put on new tires. The old ones look like brand new and the top speed is 25 MPH so I would have not replaced.  Same goes for my 1912 McLaughlin-Buick or 1911 Model T Ford with top cruising speeds on flat ground of 35MPH. I have heard some 30 era car owners just replace the tubes on older bias ply as the new ones especially whitewalls are junk. What is the opinion on bias ply slower cars? At $350 a pop on some of these  early car tires that have sitting in warehouse for bit, they are timed out before you get them on.

 

Tom in Cincinnati

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The only danger I see with older tires is driving faster than you are able to keep it under control if there is a blowout. I have a T Ford that I will never run faster than I can control it. It has tires that look to have come new from the dealership! My 36 Chevrolet has rear tires I bought new in 1976. I am mindful of my surroundings, speed and road conditions.

Edited by JFranklin (see edit history)

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You never know when dry rot happens or when, even if the tires are still unmounted.  But it can happen with tires on the car too!  I bought a used '67 Chrysler in 1981.  It had a set of Montgomery Ward bias-ply tires on it.  They still had decent tread on them.  One night, on the way home, I had to make an evasive maneuver on the highway.  That extra bit of activity obviously tore something loose in the tire's internals.  About 10 miles later, I'd noticed that front corner of the car was lower than the other side . . . from air loss.  Time to get the OEM spare out!  That weekend, I ordered some new radials, P225/75R-14 whitewalls.  A few years later, they were replaced with P245/70R-14 Advantage TAs on 14x6.5 '65 Cnrysler SW wheels.

 

More recently, I purchased a 2005 Impala with about 60K miles on it.  I looked online and didn't find the tires in their manufacturer's website.  At a normal oil change service, the tech noted the tires were 7 years old (at that time).  Later, I had to dodge a deer on the way to the farm.  After that, I began to notice a steering wheel vibration which was getting worse with time and miles.  A new set of pricey Michelins took care of that.

 

Now, in the old days, it wasn't unusual to see grain drills with older pickup truck or used car tires on them, forever.  But not now!

 

I think that tires will last longer if they are used regularly, rather than sporadically.  Just like the engine, tires need to get up to normal temperatures to keep all of the accumulated moisture out of the tire cord areas.  Or store them in a temp-controlled area, so there are no temp swings to encourage condensation in the tire's internal areas.  That's my suspicion.

 

It was stated in one of these forums that BFG would not warranty any tire that was over 6 years old (from the tire's production date code, on the inner sidewall area).  Even if it'd been in a warehouse all of its life.  Others in that thread noted how tires had come apart on tours/trips and damaged their car bodies, although the tires looked very good on the outside.

 

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)

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I bought my '31 Chevrolet deluxe Coach in 2008, and it had been in a couple of different garages unused for 40+ years, and last licensed in 1967. It came with 6 brand new mounted Goodyear 19" x 4.75-5.00 tires, purchased in 1967, with the labels still on them, and all the nibs, etc. Tires had never had been on the road. I asked a local tire shop what they thought, they said replace them immediately, even though they were soft, no sign of cracks or hardening etc. I rebuilt the car from 2009-2013, and took it for it's first spin in 46 years in summer of 2013,  with all 6 tires just where they were when I bought car. Still running and rolling perfectly in 2017, not even a slow leak in any of the tubes. Never drive it faster than 35-40 mph (about it's limit anyway), so my view is if tires are soft, no cracks, and tubes are good, little risk using tires regardless of age. I might suggest manufacturers used better rubber in tires back then, but I'm not an expert!! Still have some work to do on this car, but tied up with another old car right now. Cheers 

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