Are 14 Year Old Tires Safe

Are 14 Year Old Tires Safe? (no, and here’s why)

Running on old tires puts your life and the lives of other road users at risk. Remember, tires are the only connection your vehicle has with the road surface. If there’s a problem with that connection, you’re in a dangerous situation. So, let’s find out: are 14-year-old tires safe?

No, 14-year-old tires are not safe. In fact, they’re extremely dangerous! I could leave this article at that, but it is important to understand why old tires are dangerous.

Today, I’ll talk about tire age, when you need to buy new tires to replace your old worn out wheels, and how long your tires last.

If your tires are old, you’ll have low traction. That means a weak connection between you and the road, creating a dangerous situation.

But even if an old tire has enough tread, it’s still dangerous to use. Tire tread isn’t the only factor.

Old tires are dangerous, even if they’ve never been used on the road.

Why 14-Year-Old Tires Are Dangerous

As tires age, the rubber compound they’re made from begins to degrade until it is unsafe. This happens over several years, but you can expect there to be negative changes in (even never used) tires after around 5 or 6 years. It is worth noting that while this degradation increases through usage, it happens even if a tire is stored away. Even beyond 5 years is too much for most tires, so if your tires are 14 years old, those tires are good for one thing: the trash (well, recycling – but same idea)!

Old Cracking Tires

How Old of a Tire is Safe (and when is it no longer safe)?

Around 3 to 6 years is the sweet spot for tier longevity.

How long your tires last within that range depends on factors such as how many miles you drive each year, your driving habits, vehicle maintenance, and the quality of the product you buy.

Either way, the degradation of the rubber compound means you’ll need to swap your tires after around 5 years, regardless of any other factors.

The average driver in the United States covers from 13,000 to 15,000 miles each year. Spread this out over multiple years and you should get 50,000 to 60,000 miles from your tires.

That matches up with recommendations from manufacturers, regulators, and technicians.

Major global watchdogs agree on the length of time a tire should be used, including the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the British Rubber Manufacturers Association (BRMA), and the Japan Automobile Tire Manufacturers Association (JATMA).

What If Your Spare Tire is Old?

Rubber compound degrades over time regardless of whether the tire is used. Oxygen exposure is the main cause of rubber hardening and cracking.

What If You Have a 14 Year Old Spare Tire?

So, even a spare tire will degrade naturally and need a replacement.

The big question is does the spare tire last longer than the tires on your vehicle?

Probably yes, because the spare is not subject to factors such as driving habits, temperature changes, road conditions, and vehicle maintenance issues.

However, after around 5-6 years, the rubber compound on your spare tire will degrade enough that you need to replace it.

This is the same as any other tire, but your regular set of installed tires may last less time because of general wear and tear.

How to Check the Age of Your Tires

It is important to know how old your tires are, especially if you’re buying a used vehicle. Luckily, all the information you need to know about a tire can be found on the sidewall.

All those numbers and letters actually mean something. You find out your tire size, as well as where and when it was made.

How to Determine The Age of Your Tire
This tire was manufactured in the first week of 2020.

Once you know the “tire code” you’ll be able to instantly see how old your set is.

There are two ways to do this. Here they are below.

Two Identification Number (TIN)

All tires carry an identification number and regulatory requirements. The TIN highlights which factory the tire was built in and the year it was made.

DOT Number

This is the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number which shows 4 digits highlighting the week and year the tire was built. For example, a number of 1115 means the tire was manufactured on the 11th week of 2015.

In the photo above you can see that the tire was manufactured in the first week (01) of 2020 (20).

Beyond Tire Age, How to Tell if a Tire is Unsafe

The rubber compound on your tire will degrade within around 5 years. You should also know that there are other factors that significantly reduce tire lifespan.

That is why it is essential to perform regular checks on your tires to ensure they are working optimally.

Here are some at-home checks you can do to help determine if your tires are still safe.

Penny Test

Tread wear is a good place to start because if the tread is below 2/34” you must replace the tire regardless of age. The penny test is a good way to conduct a tread depth check at home, which you can read about here.

Air Pressure

All tires come with a recommended air pressure. If they are over or under-inflated, they can get damaged more easily.

If your tires are losing air rapidly, it is either a puncture or could indicate rubber compound degradation.


When a tire ages, the rubber compound hardens which can lead to cracks, tears, and blowouts. Cracks and stretching are the first symptoms of damage that could lead to a catastrophic failure.


Look for other irregularities on your tires, such as random balding, soft or hard patches, blemishes, and anything else that is strange.

The Risks of Driving on Old or Unsafe Tires

There are numerous risks that go hand-in-hand with aging tires. If your tire is too old, you’re putting your life in danger every time you go out on the road.

You’re also putting your passengers and other road users at risk.

Old Flat Tire

When you run old tires, the following problems become very likely.


Nothing else keeps your car on the road other than your tires. Not only does the tread grip the road surface, but the grooves also help to siphon water away from the car.

When a tire is aging and/or worn, the tread is simply not there to repel the water properly, and hydroplaning happens. You lose control over the vehicle and the outcome can be extremely dangerous.


Catastrophic tire failure is extremely rare if the tires on your car are in good condition. If the tires are old, a blowout can happen at any time and becomes much more likely.

Simply put, old tires with poor rubber cannot withstand the kind of abuse a newer set of tires can.

Stopping Power

While your brakes are essential to stopping your vehicle, they’re not the whole story. Your tires and the grip they provide help to reduce stopping distance and time.

Newer tires will stop your vehicle more quickly and within a shorter distance. When a tire is old, it will be much less effective in stopping your vehicle, increasing the distance and time it takes to brake.

Ride Comfort

Aging tires make for an increasingly shoddy ride, with your suspension forced to do more work to keep your vehicle on the road.

As this happens, alignment and balance issues happen, and you’ll experience strange noises and vibrations in different areas of your car (such as the steering wheel, axles, and seats).

How to Extend the Life of Your Tires & Keep Them Safe

There is no escaping the grip of old age on tires. Eventually, they’ll succumb to rubber compound degradation.

Why 14 Year Old Tires Are not Safe

However, there some things you can to do extend the usage of your tires as long as possible (up to 5-6 years).

Regular Tire Maintenance Jobs (and how often to do each)

Here are some tire maintenance tasks that you’ve got to do (or get done) to keep your tires in good condition. These will help ensure that you’ll be able to use your tires for their full lifespan as specified by their manufacturers.

Check Pressure Regularly

If a tire is over or under-inflated, it will not perform optimally and will be at greater risk of problems.

Checking tire pressure takes seconds and is something you should be doing every month.

Wheel Alignment

Wheel alignment is actually a procedure for the suspension, ensuring your vehicle does not pull to one direction more than the other when in motion.

There is debate around how often you should get an alignment check, but at least once a year is my recommendation (twice is better).

Tire Rotation

Swapping tires by rotating them (e.g., moving the rear tires to the front) is a good way to promote even tread wear across all four tires. The consensus on servicing with tire rotations is around every 5,000 to 6,000 miles.


Balancing ensures your tires remain balanced on the wheels. Every corner, pothole, or other stress may cause a tire to lose balance. It is incremental but it happens over time.

Balancing services twice a year is best, and I advise getting the balance, alignment, and rotation done during the same service.

It’s Dangerous to Drive on Old Tires

In fact, any tire over 6 years old is at greater risk of rubber compound degradation. So, you can imagine how dangerous 14-year-old tires would be!

While it can be annoying and expensive to swap out your tires, it certainly beats getting into a wreck because your old tires cannot keep your car on the road. If you’re looking for the best deal on some new tires, check out this article with my favorite places to buy tires online.

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