I still remembered when I got my first car and I didn’t understand the importance of changing new tyre until my tyre broke into pieces in the middle of the highway. That was due to the tyre was too old (> 7 years old)and the rubber become too hard. I couldn't imagine the tyre can just break into pieces at that time! :)
From that time onwards, I always pay attention to my tyre and to make sure it gets changed maximum every 4 years. Well, the usual recommendation is you should always change every 2 years to 4 years for safety purpose. The reason is most tyre manufacturer only has 4 to 5 years warranty period. So assuming if your tyre is brand new, you can only used up to 4 years or 5 years.
Wait a minute! If you buy a tyre in 2010, does that mean you should change in 2014? Well, that is only true if your tyre was made in 2010. If your tyre was made in 2009, you should change in 2013 and if your tyre was made in 2008, you should change in 2012 (which is 2 years after you buy a new tyre). So, it is extremely important to understand when your tyre was made? If it was made in 2006, your tyre has already expired although you buy a new one. You’re being cheated!
How to check tyre manufacture date?
Well, tyre manufacture date can be found from your surface of your tyre. What you need to do is look for the 4 digit numbers. First 2 digit numbers represent the week of the years (1 year has 52 weeks) and the second 2 digit numbers represent the years after 2000. Here are the few examples that you can see from your tyre:
As you can see, the 0907 refers to this tired was made in week 09 of 2007.
The manufacture date (i.e. 2307 - week 27, 2007) is usually stamped at the right side of the DOT code as you can see below:
However, I’ve seen not all tyres are like that. So the rule of thumb is just to search for the entire tyre that contains the 4 digit numbers. So, please make sure you check your existing tyre (is it already expired?) or the new tyre that you buy (is it really new?).
My recommendation: You should only buy new tyre with less than 1 year old. Please check every time you get a new tyre and don’t be cheated. This is also good for your safety.
P/S: Well, if you don't see any 4 digit numbers. This is usually the 4 digit numbers are at the other side of the tyre. For some tyres, only one side have the manufacture date information. An inexperience worker may not aware of it and fix your tyres wrongly. The date should be always faced outside.
US, Europe or Malaysia Certification?
There are basically 2 international standards of certification. In US, the DOT code is being used and in Europe, the E-mark is being used. Your tyre should at least contains minimum one of them (either DOT code or E-mark). The following shows example of DOT code and E-mark (e.g. Eii or E4) from your tyre:
However, as for Malaysia certification, it is usually marked with the “Sirim” logo and the word “SNI” (optional). The following shows example of the “Sirim” logo (i.e. MS) and the word “SNI”.
Well, “Sirim” and “SNI” is in fact not a big deal (although it seems to be a big deal). If you have the “Sirim” and “SNI”(optional) mark on you tyre, you still want to make sure you have a least one of the either the DOT code or E-mark on your tyre. Having US or Europe certification is most important thing. If your tyre is made in Malaysia, the "Sirim” and “SNI”(optional) marks must be there.
My recommendation: You should make sure your tyre must at least contain the DOT code or the E-mark code. If you're Malaysian and you really scared (in Chinese, we call it “Kia Su”), you can make sure your tyre has the “Sirim” Logo but please also make sure it contains DOT code or the E-mark code as well. If you’re super scared (i.e. super Kia Su), you can make sure you tyre has 3 of them (i.e. DOT code, E-mark, and Sirim)!!!
Tyre is the most important safety that we all should pay attention to but it often gets ignored. You should understand how to read these codes on your tyre (at least the manufacture date), to make sure it is not old or expired (i.e. > 4 years) and make sure it has the proper certification (i.e. DOT code or the E-mark). You should also often check your tyre condition (e.g. enough air pressure – usually is 32 psi for normal compact car). Good luck!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2011! Drive safely too…