Old Tires

My 2000 Ford Ranger 4x2 was bought new in Nov 1999. The original tires have 38,440 miles and about 8/32" tread remaining. (The spare has only been on the ground for about 200 miles). The truck is parked in a garage 98% of the time. There is no cracking on the sidewalls. Are my 9 year

old tires safe? I’ve seen several emails indicating older tires could delaminate and have the treads fall off like the semi retreads.

I would accept the risk and replace in pairs when the first one failed. I have had much younger tires fall apart under warranty, and consider such an event as part of the driving experience, so my risk assessment may be different from yours.

I think your tires are just fine, but I agree that if one fails, replace the 2 on the same axle. Keep the correct pressure and check it every 2 weeks or so.

You didn’t mention which state you live in and that’s important! Rubber degrades over time and the rate is dependent on the temperature.

There have been a lot of bulletins published recently on tires age, and there is an apparent disagreement on the time involved. My best guess on what they are trying to say is:

If you live in a hot weather climate (AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX and FL), then the limit is 6 years. If you live in a cold weather climate (ND, MI, MN, WI, etc), then the limit is 10 years. States in between are …ah… in between.

BTW, cracking would be a sign that something is wrong, but lack of cracking does not mean it is OK. Cracking is a combination of material properties and the amount of stress that material has undergone. Tires that have not seen a lot of use have also not seen a lot of stress.

The truck was bought in Montana and hasn’t spent any time in the south. Appreciate the comments.

It is not easy to come up with a definitive answer. You did provide all the important information however.

I would tend to believe that they are still OK. Ozone is a killer and it appears you tyres have not been exposed to much. I would certainly watch for any sidewall cracking, and I would tend to avoid freeway trips or long trips. However I would guess you don’t get a lot of those anyway.

The problem is while there are ways to tell if the tyres are bad, like cracking, there is no way of telling if they are good, like lack of cracking.

If it were mine and if I drove at all on the highway, I would replace them now. How much longer are you planning to keep the truck? If you are planning on another 9 years, or anything close to that, I would replace them now. You are not likely to want to drive on 15 year old tyres so if you keep it for another six years, that would mean you will need to replace the tyres sometime anyway, so why not do it now?

One thing to think about -

If you blow out a tire in Montana, it could be a LONG way from ANYWHERE. Make sure that your spare is in very good condition. If you blew out two tires, they you’re sore out of luck. Getting stranded in Montana in the winter on the side of a road can be a VERY different proposition than getting stranded in Philadelphia in the middle of winter.

Here’s an anecdotal experience. I have an 1983 Toyota Celica GTS that I bought in late 1982. It has less than 36,000 miles and is always kept in a garage. It had its original tires until September 2008. On one drive on the freeway (So. California) I noticed a vibration that wasn’t there before. After getting home I checked the tires. The tread was separating on one of the tires. There was a bulge around the circumference of the tire. The other tires still seemed okay and none showed sidewall cracking. Of course, I immediately replaced all four tires. I figured after 26 years it was about time.

In the same month I replaced 12 year old tires on my Toyota pickup but that was due to normal tread wear. The truck has nearly 270,000 miles and spends most of its time outdoors.

I’d say it is hard to predict when a given tire will fail from old age. My experience could be unusual and has no real bearing on your situation. I only put it out there to illustrate the point of who knows when a tire will fail?

I for one think this whole hoop-la about the tread seperation is based on one instance out of a million or so. Not worth my time to stress it!

I had tread separation on two mostly worn out tires about 5 years old that made a noise and I could feel it in the steering wheel too. Can’t recall the brand and it happened on hot summer days a few weeks apart. I had a good warning that I heeded.

If you drive 90 mpg in Montana, (don’t the cops still allow that?) you should get new tires. Your money or your life. As Jack Benny said with pause, I’m thinking, I’m thinking!

All that said, I have two tires with 125,000 miles on a car, bought new, that are (car and tires) 12 years old. We had 10 year old tires on a motorhome with no problem. The original tires on my old VW had rayon cords; lasted about 5 years with tread remaining. The tires just died; went flat. The rayon deteriorated but nobody uses rayon now.

Bottom line: It’s a gamble. Works or not depending on who you talk to.

The “unlimited” speed limit in Montana has since been limited. 70 day / 60 night IIRC. Even if my numbers aren’t correct, I know that there is now a limit in those once-unlimited zones.

I would go ahead and replace the tires. Just to give you the peace of mind that you have new and safe tires on your vehicle.

It depends on the kind of driving you do…Tires last a long time…I have an old truck used to haul water in Sonora, Mexico. 7.50X16 8-ply nylon. (E). They are 12 years old, truck is not garaged but is under a car-port. Would I drive it 10 miles at 35mph? YES! Would I drive it 100 miles at 70? NO! In a cool climate, in the shade, tires will last a long time…

Cracking is a cause for immediate replacement. You have had great service from those tires already so it wouldn’t be a bad thing if you replaced them. If they were the long life tires with an 80,000 mile tread life expectancy, I would consider using them a bit more. If they were expected to last for 40,000 miles, I would replace them.

Since you’ve already gotten over 38,000 miles out of them and you’ve expressed concern, I’d suggest replacing them. A set of tires every 9 years is cheap. Peace of mind is priceless.