Do tires go bad with age?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

Please help me out. The tires on my 1994 Buick are original. They still have good tread, as we have only 12,000 miles on the car. My wife insists that the tires are getting old and need to be replaced. I say they're still perfectly good. Am I right, or do I have to wash the dinner dishes for a month? -- Walter

TOM: Well, you should wash the dinner dishes for half a month, Walter. That has nothing to do with the tire question, I just think in the interests of fairness, you should
help out a little more around the house. Don't you? Then your wife might not be so interested in the tire guy.

RAY: You happen to be right about the tires, Walter. Tires don't spoil after a set amount of time like, say, Roquefort cheese. They're generally good until either the
tread wears down, the tread or the sidewall gets damaged or the sidewalls get severely dry and cracked.

TOM: Sidewall cracking is the most likely cause for concern in your case, especially if you live in a hot climate. But even that shouldn't be an issue after only five years.

RAY: Rather than ask a tire dealer to check for you (due to the obvious conflict of interest), ask a regular mechanic you trust to look at the tires. And if he says they
look OK, just keep driving.

TOM: By the way, if you tend to keep your tires for eight or 10 years (if you drive only a few thousand miles a year) and you live in a hot climate, you can help delay
cracking by treating the tires with Armor All or some similar protectant with UV blocker. Just be sure to coat both sides of each tire, since cracks on either sidewall can
put a tire out of commission.

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