Did Firestone take me to the cleaners?

while having my car serviced at a Firestone service center, they found a nail in one tire that was just 9 years old. I don’t drive a lot of miles in a year so there was about 6/32 of tread left on the tire. They said they couldn’t repair a tire that old. I bought 2 new tires to match (on the same axel). I ask to have the remaining good tire to be put on the spare in my trunk. They told me they couldn’t do that because of the age of the tire. I used to be in the auto repair business and we repaired tires with a plug regardless of the age of the tire. Also we installed tires of any age on any clean rim. what’s going on here? Did they take me to the cleaners or is this some new policy the tire manufacturers dreamed up to sell more tires?

They are correct and if you are in the US there are lawyers just waiting for a situation like this.

Sorry , Arnie but you are way out of date and the current guide line is to replace tires at about the 6 year mark no matter thread depth.


That is based upon marketing and the desire of the tire industry to sell more rubber. A lot of factors can affect the life of tires. Why not replace every bushing in your vehicle after 6 years? I think the original poster was taken to the cleaners. Mind you I don’t know how long the nail was in the tire, or anything else about it and for all I know the tire was in Arizona or somewhere quite hot and more likely to be affected by dry rot.

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I wouldn’t willingly drive around on 9 year old tires

If all four tires were 9 years old, you should’ve replaced them all

The spare is probably in better shape than the ones they took off

Probably not the best policy in today’s litigious society

Most tire companies recommend replacement of tires after 6 years or so, regardless of how many miles on it. It’s not a bad idea as tires do dry rot.


I’d bet that @CapriRacer (Barry, a regular contributor) will be stopping by, shortly. He will have more information about tires and aging. Perhaps he will describe proper inspection, cracking, etcetera.

Tires - CapriRacer (Barry)
Outstanding Expertise
Tire Engineer for a major tire manufacturer
30+ years as a tire expert
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:


Whenever I purchase tires I always ask to see the actual tires that will be going on my cars. I reject any tires with a DOT date of manufacture “freshness” label more than a month or two old. Some places have some old “brand new” tires they’ll sell and you’d already be on your way to old tires.
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

Read these articles:


You must be a picky buyer.
In my heck of the woods, if tire is under 1 year from the factory, it’s OK.
Besides, the deterioration is substantially slower if tire is on the shelf (and away from harmful UV rays).

Thanks for the vote of confidence.

First, the rubber used in tires is different than the rubber used elsewhere on cars - such as belts, bushings, and hoses. Those components tend to be made out rubber that has more age resistance. Even then, the rubber used is specific to what properties work best for the application.

For example, the rubber used in brake lines is different than the rubber used in fuel lines and different again for radiator hoses.

Why don’t tire manufacturers use that kind of rubber? Because they can’t get the performance.

It was the Ford/Firestone controversy that brought out the age issue. The Firestone tires in question took a few years to show the problem (that is, it was fatigue resistance), and tires in the desert southwest performed much more poorly than tires in the north.

But the problem of age is quite complex and doesn’t lend itself to simple statements. For example, a tire properly stored doesn’t age very fast compared to one in active service. So you will see what appears to be contradictory statements. It’s not that they are right or wrong - it’s that they are looking at different parts of the elephant.

The best information I have been able to gather is that tires operating in hot climates - AZ, TX, CA, NV, FL - should be taken out of service after 6 years, where tires operating in cold climates - ND, ID, WI, MN, MT - should be taken out of service after 10 years. Locations in-between are … ah …… in-between.

Since most people don’t know when their tires were applied, using the date of manufacture is a good gauge as to how old the tires are.

Further, sidewall and tread cracking are good indicators that the rubber has deteriorated - BUT - since some tire manufacturers use those types of rubbers mentioned above in the sidewall, a lack of cracking is NOT an indication that things are good!

It is a commonly held belief in the tire industry that tires, properly stored, can be sold as “new” for up to 6 years after the manufacture date. I say “belief”, because there doesn’t appear to be data to support this - HOWEVER, the company I worked for verified that even after 3 years, they could find no performance difference with tires stored in their warehouses. What happens when tires are in the tire dealers hands is another story.

And one last item. My interaction with lawyers says that the courts recognize that consumers are not experts, but tire dealers are, and tire dealers can not avoid liability by having the consumers sign a waiver. That means the tire dealer can be held liable if he sees something such as an old tire. He is more or less obligated to take the tire out of service.


I am… and it’s not that I don’t recognize that indoor storage of new tires preserves freshness, it’s more that tire sellers/servicers won’t work on “old” tires for repairs, rotations, balancing etcetera.

Shot by their own gun… it’s their rules that want me to have my full x-number of years use before they tell me to get lost.

I’m not going to buy “new” 2-year-old tires at full price, get a flat 4 years later, and have them tell me they don’t work on “old” tires (“Those suckers are 6 years old! We can’t fix your flat.”). Besides, high volume tire dealers generally have very fresh rubber.
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:


You are just repeating stuff, without providing any explanation. Do you think that tire rot affects tires in Alaska the same way it does in Florida? And what is up with the industry that keeps claiming to improve its synthetic rubber formulations in such a way that it reduces effective tire life?

Traction, rolling resistance, longevity: make your choice between these, but you can not have all 3 dialed to the max in one brew.

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I’m not an expert, but I would think that tire rot would affect your tires/performance depending on the climate you are in. (not sure if that was a rhetorical question or not). Every material performs differently in extreme temperatures, whether cold or hot. And by performs differently, I mean it could become more or less brittle, more or less flexible, more or less resistance to friction etc. which all would affect how long of a life the product would have given the extreme conditions and forces tires see.

As for an industry that claims improvements on rubber formulations yet reducing tire life, this is relatively simple. buyers of cars/suvs/trucks all want maximum performance and maximum efficiency. formulation improvements could make a truck handle like a car or a kia soul handle like a sports car. while the handling and efficiencies improve, it is plausible that the life expectancy drops. this could be either because of the formulation differences themselves or it could be because the forces from tighter suspensions and riding more aggressively puts extra wear on the tires.

just some food for thought

Any time tires are exposed to sunlight and/or ozone they deteriorate. Temperature will also play a factor. A car kept indoors in climate controlled environment will have longer-lasting tires (they won’t age as quickly). For example a spare tire kept inside of the vehicle will be viable for considerably longer than on of the tires that the vehicle rolls around on, simply because it’s not exposed to the elements.

There’s always give and take when it comes to tires. But tires have always had a shelf live even if they weren’t being driven on. Enough people got sued and now we have standards for what constitutes an allowable age for a tire.

It was not!

As an industry expert, climate does indeed affect tire performance - and on the topic at hand, hot climates cause tires to age faster.

Why don’t the tire manufacturers do something to improve the aging process?

They have, but there is a law of diminishing returns and they are at it. Specifically, there are chemicals called anti-oxidants that can be added to the rubber mix to slow the aging process by providing an alternative reaction to the oxygen attacking the rubber. These chemicals are expensive and adding twice as much doesn’t double the life of the tire - and until some other way to slow the aging process down comes along, we are stuck with the situation.

So addressing the other issue: What about selling less than fresh tires, then later refusing to take this into account later. Yup, but that is a legal question, not a technical one - and that has to be solved in a different way. .

I think the tire dealer did you a favor. A shop would be nuts to put a 9 year old tire back on your car.


Here’s some interesting reading on it. I have seen this in numerous publications where tire manufacturers themselves say a tire can last up to 10 years but after 5 it should be inspected annually. I live in a cool, northern climate. There’s no way I’m ditching tires at 5-6 years unless they have some unusual issue or are worn enough to warrant it. But this is no different than the oil change interval debates. Some people will be inclined to avoid as much risk as possible and have more aggressive replacement intervals…

Point of clarification: Although the term “dry rot” is often used in connection with tires, it is incorrect. Dry rot is a fungus that attacks moist wood. It does not attack rubber. Various volatile chemicals in the rubber eventually escape the rubber, and it becomes more brittle and hard, and it cracks.

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I feel confident that the industry standard for shelf life of tires and similar products is heavily tilted toward increasing sales and not customer satisfaction…Just sayin’.

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That, and rubber is attacked by ozone and UV. My air pollution class had a lesson on how they discovered in the 1950s that ozone created problems when tires stored in Los Angeles warehouses suffered ‘dry rot’.