I-TEAM INVESTIGATION: How to protect yourself from old tires


by Andy Treinen


Posted on February 14, 2013 at 9:14 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Old, worn, and in some cases poorly maintained tires continue to put you and your family at risk.

Since WHAS11's I-Team first uncovered the problem a Louisville daycare van crashed killing one person and sending a dozen children to the hospital. Tire failure was cited as a contributing factor.

Protecting yourself from unsafe tires is still largely up to you and it wasn’t too hard to find them.

There were tires still in service well after they exceeded manufacturer recommendations and after six years, whether in use or not - all tires start to break down.

At one lot WHAS11’s Andy Trienen was told if we showed up with cash the owners might replace a tire that it is clearly split on the inside.

"See that's a whole another area and I think what you've uncovered is really an area that's important that hasn't gotten enough attention,” Sean Kane, president of Research and Strategies, said.

Kane says only 16 states require tire inspections on used cars. Kentucky and Indiana are not on the list. Kane also says dated tires don't have to be worn.

Sometimes old tires that are brand new to the road can break down with catastrophic consequences.

Vaneisha Cooper had tires she thought were as new as the 2008 Lincoln she was driving. After her death her parents learned the tires were actually made in 2001. Failure of the right-rear tire forced her into oncoming traffic.

So how can you find out the age of a tire? Officials say a three or four digit code has all the information you need to see how old a tire is.

There’s resistance from the Rubber Manufacturers Association on letting consumers clearly know how old their tires are.

Kevin Adams from Darryl's Tires says they only sell tires made in the last six years.

In a video made by a consumer group you can see how hard a car pulls when the tire tread separates and the driver in the video even knew the failure was coming.

The problem is that manufacturer recommendations from companies like Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, BMW and Toyota are not law. Kane has been lobbying for new legislation since 2003.

"If anyone is unclear still, they can go to any tire dealer or any auto mechanic they can read that date code for them,” Dan Zielinski, from the Rubber Manufacturers Association, said.

And information is the key, just last week the National Traffic Administration estimated that 90 people died in the U.S. in 2012 because of tire failure on tires older than six years; Thirty-two hundred people were injured.