Do You Know The Age of Your Tyres

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On a beautiful Monday afternoon, Deji Nnamani (not real name) was cruising down the road returning home after a long day at work when suddenly the back right tire of his vehicle exploded. Luckily, he maintained control over the vehicle without panicking and safely maneuvered to the side of the road. The tires according to Deji were newly purchased a few months ago from a local tire shop in the city of Abuja. How could this happen to a new tire was his question to me when we met? Unlike Deji, Charles Okokon(not real name)case was not as pleasant as the case of Deji . In the crash which ultimately cost him his life, Charles, according to the narrative of a close friend was purely a case of ‘’something must kill a man-whether it is death by a car crash or natural death.

 Charles, fondly called Charlie by close friend’s tragedy, was   the ultimate result of his carefree attitude to driving; he was a speed freak who believed strongly that the manufacturers were not stupid to make ample provisions for cars to run beyond the restrictions of the law. Yet despite this, he rarely paid attention to specific standard as he would always use substandard tyres on his car. On this faithful day, he was cruising on his way home after a bottle too many from a friend’s house warming party when the two front tyres exploded. In his tipsy state he could not maneuver the vehicle as he crashed into a parked trailer and died instantly.

Although the two cases cited were caused by tyre blowout, the truth is that the fate of Deji and Charles was directly related to their attitude to vehicle maintenance especially tyre care and another traffic infraction-drink driving which we will discuss some other day.. The fact is that all like medication, all tires have dates of manufacture and   also all have expiration dates. Surprisingly, many consumers of tyres and dealers of tires do not know about tire expiration dates while a handful like Charles care less about this vital information. An uninformed consumer thinks he purchased brand new tires when in reality those tires may have been sitting on the shelf for years. Even though the tires were never used on a vehicle, they are still several years old. Every tire, I must repeat like a preacher on a pulpit has a birth date—the day it was manufactured—and an expiration date. In some climes this date may be six years or four years like the case in Nigeria depending on the approved standard for the country in question.-that is from the manufactured date. Most automobile manufacturers warn drivers in such climes to replace vehicle tires after six or less years as the case may be. To drive the car with such tyres any longer than that, is a gamble with the integrity of the tyre and is risky for drivers.

It was this knowledge of the integrity of tyres and my own attempt to avert falling into Deji trap that, I took my car for a routine check a fortnight ago to ascertain the state of my tyres. After the usual routine was concluded, I was told I needed to replace my tyres which I gladly agreed to, knowing the dangers in indulging in the typical management syndrome of recycling old and substandard tyres that has become our style. I was however stunned when I was presented with a tyre that was manufactured early 2017-meaning the tyre was over fifteen months old on the shelf since the date of manufacture. I insisted I needed tyres that were manufactured early 2018 or alternatively December 2017 which I luckily got although my dealer as a good businessman tried all his marketing skills to dump a nearly one year and half tyres on me.

  My experience with my supposed experienced but shrewd tyre dealer jolted me to a promise I made to a senior who sometime last week forwarded a material on tyre and requested for my response. That promise is what I am trying to fulfill today but as I told him, I will merely provide materials available and allow readers to be their own judge. Since I know how good a politician I am, I have chosen not to indulge in debates on the lifespan of tyres but provide vital information and allow readers to do God’s bidding in Deuteronomy 30:19 where in His Holy scripture, He said, ’’I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that thou and thy seed may live life and death I place before you, choose life. I could not lay my hands on the Holy Koran to give you what it says about this but promise to do so next week. But if you doubt my political prowess please ask my classmates who will testify how Olabisi Shobanjo and Charles Akpan tricked me to contest in a departmental election on the promise that as my political advisers and grassroots mobilizers, they will ensure the whole class roots for the man with the Midas touch. I foolishly listened to my friends instead of facing my acting business with Theatre 15, at the University of Lagos. To summarize the long story, I contested and lost woefully as even my so called friends dumped me to face my waterloo, choosing instead to vote for my opponent just to show me that book head and politics don’t jell.

 Back to my focus for this week; do you know how old your tyres are? Do you know the age of your tyres? Are your tyres expired? Are they standard tyres? Do you know how to determine the age of your tyres and lastly do you know how to find the DOT on your tyres? These questions form the core of a material my friend and colleague who works with a construction company sent to me with a requests for my reaction. I acknowledged his chats with a promise to get back to him on the subject. As we reflect on post Federal Road Safety Corps(FRSC) after the 30th anniversary programme  since our  1988 journey, I have chosen today to share materials that I again stumbled on for the interest of those who drive and even aspiring drivers. 

Again, my question which demands that you take interest in the state of your tyres is not meant as an academic exercise but for the sake of your safety.

Available Research findings suggest that only 17 per cent of drivers can assess the age of their rubber and then know when it’s time to change. You might not think it’s important but tyres’ performance actually deteriorates as they age: “Tyres contain anti-oxidising chemicals to slow the rate of ageing, but they need to be in use for these to be effective. Infrequent use or poor storage can accelerate the ageing process and make tyres unroadworthy. Low mileage, older cars tend to be most at risk from premature ageing.”The date your tyres were made will be on the sidewall in the form of four numbers usually preceded by the letters DOT. These numbers represent the week number and year, so 3410 will be week 34, 2010. Use that information to make sure you’re buying tyres with the longest shelf life possible.