Are 5 year old tyres safe?

By Julia Freeman

If you have a car that tends to spend most of its life in a garage, only making a trip on high-days and holidays, or possibly a caravan or motorhome which gets used well during the summer months, but stays on the drive for the rest of the year, there could well be a chance that the tyres fitted are five years old or more.

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Your tyres may look absolutely fine, with plenty of tread and no lumps or cracks, but there may be unseen issues caused by the aging of the rubber. Let's take a look at whether older tyres are safe to drive on.

The short answer is no

The rubber which constitutes the bulk of a tyre degrades over time. Rubber is a natural product and its contact with the oxygen in both the air we breathe and the air which inflates the tyre reacts with the rubber, causing it to break down. This perishing happens over time, and it is estimated that the maximum safe lifespan of a tyre is around five years.
 
In normal usage, the tyre tread is likely to wear down before the rubber degrades, meaning that the tyre is probably going to be replaced before the natural shelf life of a tyre is reached. For second or occasional cars, or caravans which are not used regularly, the converse is likely to be true.

The longer answer is maybe

Of course, not all tyres were created equal. Premium brands such as Bridgestone have spent large sums in the research and development of anti-oxidising compounds to help protect the rubber from the effects of oxygen, UV radiation, and other environmental factors that can affect the lifespan and safety of a tyre. These developments mean that people who buy car tyres from these manufacturers get the benefit of the research.
 
Whilst many tyre manufacturers suggest that their tyres are to be replaced every five years at the latest, some are more circumspect advising that their tyres should be checked for safety annually after they have been in place for five years.
 
If checked and deemed to be safe, tyres can run longer than five years, but there is a risk that the rubber may fail catastrophically which increases at this point due to the age of the compound.

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Check and Check again

The law, when it comes to looking at the tread of a tyre, is that if it is deeper than 1.6mm across the central 75% of that tyre, it is legal. A handy way to check this at home is to use a 20p piece, if you insert the coin into the tread, and the raised bevel around the outside of the coin is fully covered by tread, it is deep enough. If you can see any of the bevel, then the tread is not sufficient and the tyre will need to be replaced. In reality, experts recommend 3mm or above.
 
Unfortunately, seldom used tyres may well have decent tread but the rubber could be dangerous, which makes it very important to get older tyres checked to ensure their safety.

Book with Protyre

If you have some older tyres that you want checked out by a professional, simply contact your local Protyre garage and arrange a free tyre check. Our tyre professionals will check the rubber, tread, and other aspects of the tyre to see whether or not they are safe to continue, or they will provide recommendations for replacements if needed.

Otherwise, our full range of tyres is available to purchase through the website by clicking the button below and using our quick and easy tyre finder guide to find tyres best suited to your driving requirements. In many cases, we can offer same day appointments across the range of services we provide, including tyre fitting, free vehicle safety checks, and air con re-gassing.

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About the author

Article Author Photo
By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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