Q: My question: What is the acceptable time between the manufacture and buying of tires? I understand that the date the tire was built is the last four numbers at the end of the D.O.T., so 2501 means the 25th week of 2001.
A: There is no hard and fast rule for how old “new tires” should be when you purchase them. It all really depends on the size.
Several readers have written to complain about being sold “old” new tires, such as two-year-old tires or even older than that. If a tire shop is going to put old products on your car, the customer should be consulted. But, sometimes, one-year-old tires are all that’s available.
Summer tires are produced in the winter, and winter tires are made in the summer. All-season tires can be manufactured all year.
Given that there are hundreds of tire sizes on the market now, and not that many manufacturing plants, not all tires can be produced all the time. Obviously the most popular sizes get produced the most. Some sizes, notably high-performance tires, are produced in batches large enough to supply the market for a year.
This makes sense for the tire company. It is very costly to switch from making one type of tire to another on the plant floor. Machinery must be changed over, molds must be switched, rubber compounds have to be changed, and belts that go into the tire have to be changed to another type. This can take days, all while the line is down.
Some of the newest robotic plants have production lines designed for faster changes in tire sizes, classes and compounds. But most plants are old and not designed for easy changeovers.
Pirelli’s latest MIRS robots could, in theory, change the size and type of each consecutive tire it produces. But, in reality, there is a time delay and it just is not financially practical.
So when you find out the age of your “new tires,” consider if it makes a difference. Tires have a five- to seven-year lifespan, before the rubber has lost most of its grip. If you drive a lot and the treads will be worn down before that time period, it doesn’t matter if the tire is a year old.
But anything much older than a year, I would not be happy with the tire shop for putting them on without consultation. Nor would I like seeing tires that are significantly different ages.
Q: I have a 2007 Honda Civic DX with Dunlop original tires (P195/65 R15) that are terrible on wet roads (but only 29,000 km). I need to replace them for safety. I do not use the car in snow. Can you tell me what is top rated for wet roads?
A: You can replace the tires with “Touring” or “Grand Touring” type tires. The major difference is really a plusher ride in the Grand Touring class and a few more dollars.
Both classes offer great wet-weather tires. In the Grand Touring class, the top rubber for rain right now is the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology. Next comes the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus, and a third option would be the Michelin Primacy MXV4.
The Continental is also the lowest priced of the three, the Michelin the most expensive. Continentals EcoPlus Technology means it is a low rolling resistance tire, so it may save you a few dollars in fuel costs.
In the Touring category, the Michelin Defender is the one to beat. The Firestone Precision Touring is very close and only about 75 per cent of the Michelin price. Both are great wet-weather tires.
Send tire questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail volume precludes personal replies.
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