Used By Tyres

Reporter: Frank Pangallo

Adelaide plumber Andy Ferraday is a lucky man.

"I was enjoying the drive, the new car and next minute bang!"

The tyres looked new when Andy took delivery of his year old Ford Ranger just two days earlier but they were an accident waiting to happen, almost a decade past their use by date.

Somehow me he managed to wrestle control of his vehicle after a rear tyre blew out at high speed.

"I could have been killed or killed somebody else," says Andy.

Tyres are one of the most important parts on a vehicle yet most of us pay them scant attention. And at their peril says Burkhard Kabeltiz a senior manager with Bridgestone tyres.

"We absolutely urge motorists to take greater responsibility for the maintenance and the condition of their tyres."

But it's not just maintenance we should be concerned about. There's also the date of manufacture. Automotive Engineer Grad Zivkovic warns unused tyres older than six years shouldn't be sold.

"The general public is not aware that after six years tyres are not safe to be used because they can deteriorate so badly that some of them can explode driving at high speed or in hot weather," says Grad.

Old tyres sold as new is now a big safety issue in the US where many road fatalities have been blamed on them. Yet here in Australia it's largely unknown.

Clues to their age and standard are on the sidewall of tyres but most of us wouldn't know how to decipher the information.

What Grad found most disturbing was that we were able to buy several tyres that were more than 10 years old.

And to give you an idea how much rubber can deteriorate over time, Grad conducted tensile tests on the old and new tyres we bought.

The newer tyres easily withstood the strength test but all the tyres 10 years plus were three times weaker than the new ones.

There are no regulations in Australia that cover the age of tyres or the sale of used ones imported from overseas. However Grad says it's time that changed.

Burkhard Kabelitz says Bridgestone doesn't sell old stock and recommends consumers always buy their tyres from reputable retailers.