Product Liability

Dangerously old tires sold at bargain prices on eBay

shredded tire BA istock1 Dangerously old tires sold at bargain prices on eBayTires more than six years old pose a giant safety risk that many consumers may not be aware of, but that hasn’t stopped at least one company from buying old automotive tires and selling them to consumers on eBay.

According to Safety Research & Strategies Inc. (SRS), a Massachusetts-based group dedicated to researching the safety of auto and other consumer products, an ad appearing in Tire Business alerted it to a business that willfully sells old tires to anyone who wants them.

The ad states “We’re not afraid of older discontinued product and will make fair offers to clear out all unwanted product.”

That company, identified by SRS as TireNet-USA, offers some tires for sale that are more than a decade old. Some of the company’s eBay inventory of “new” old tires is even 19 years old. Product descriptions state “if this concerns you at all, please do not purchase this tire. Tires will not be taken back due to age.”

As SRS observes, “So, you can’t return them. What happens when you use them and suffer a catastrophic tread separation?”

Rubber and rubber-based compounds used to manufacture tires degrade as they age, losing pliability and becoming brittle. Signs of hardening rubber can often be found on tires that are six years old or older, whether or not they have been mounted and used.

Tires with rubber treads that have become hardened and brittle are prone to detreading and blowout, which are some of the most common causes of single- and multi-vehicle crashes, including deadly rollovers.

Al tires are supposed to contain a date code somewhere along the edge of the tire where it meets the rim. Tires made before 2000 have a three-digit code, while tires made after 2000 have a four-digit code. The first two digits represent the week of the year (01 = first week of January, 02 the second week, etc); the third digit (for tires made before 2000) is the year (1 =1991). For most tires made after 2000, the third and fourth digits are the year (04 = 2004). So if the date code reads 0806, the tire was manufactured in the eighth week of 2006.


Safety Research & Strategies, Inc.
Beasley Allen