Tuesday, 11 May 2010

New Old Stock Tyres - the dangers!

Whilst we at Vintage Tyres make it our mission to introduce new tyres and reintroduce discontinued ones, research tyre technology, work with manufacturers, attend shows and ship classic and vintage tyres to the four corners of the globe, we also offer a specialist fitting service so that customers who have had difficulty finding someone to fit their tyres can benefit from our years of experience.

One Saturday morning we were visited by a customer with his pretty Lancia convertible, to have some 155R15 tyres fitted. He had purchased some Michelin XZX from a friend, who had assured him that they were “as new”, “stored correctly” and in “perfect condition”. This immediately rang alarm bells with us, as we are the Michelin distributors in the UK and know that they haven’t made XZX in this size for many years.

It raises an important point – often tyres are sold as “brand new” via internet auction sites, autojumbles and small ads which in reality are many years old. As rubber is an organic compound, no matter how you store a tyre the material will continue to develop and change. The British Association of Rubber Manufacturers say you should not use a tyre which is over 10 years old, and if a tyre has been unused for 6 years then it should be discarded – actually using a tyre keeps it supple.

If a tyre is older than this, you cannot predict how it will react under the stresses and heat put upon it when in use on a car or motorcycle. Many of you may remember the case of an MGB owner who had fitted some “New Old Stock” tyres, one of which blew on the motorway, flipping the car and killing the driver. The condition and age of your tyres is one of the most important things involved in road safety, and with such a good choice of quality tyres available at the moment for classic vehicles, it really is not worth taking the risk!

So how old were the tyres in brought in by Mr Smith? Well on inspection there were several obvious clues that any motorist could spot. Firstly, just handling the tyres you can feel how dry and hard the rubber is, especially when compared to a brand new Michelin off the shelf. Secondly, stamped on the tyres was “Made in West Germany”, so it is clear that these were from a time when the Berlin Wall still stood. Thirdly, the date code was clear on the sidewall – “071”. Meaning these were produced in the 7th week of 1981. Or in other words, these “brand new” tyres to fit the pretty Lancia are in fact nearly 30 years old.

Mr Smith made the wise decision to fit new tyres, and choose 155SR15 Vredestein Sprint Classics from the range available. The date codes on these showed they were made in February 2010, so he felt a lot safer! If you need tyres for your classic or vintage vehicle, be wary! The best advice is to go to a specialist tyre dealer. If in doubt, always ask the seller the date code on the tyres you are thinking of buying, and if you can’t decipher it, ask someone who can. Most tyres made in the last ten years should carry a four digit code, where the first two digits denote the week of production and the second two the year. So if you are in any doubt as to their origin and tyres you are looking at do not carry this format, then for safety’s sake – walk away.


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