Tire Identification Numbers: The Answer to Most of Your Tire Problems
Purchasing tires may not be an exciting or fascinating endeavor, but it is an important one. Understanding the information available in the tire identification number (TIN) can provide you with valuable information and resources that will allow you to make wise purchasing decisions, stay updated on recalls and be aware of the age of your tires.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires tire manufacturers provide pertinent information about the tire’s manufacture, size and type in the TIN located on the sidewall of every tire produced and sold in the United States. Make sure the tires you purchase contain a TIN.
Locating the Tire Identification Number
You can find your tire’s TIN on the sidewall. It is a 10- to 12-digit code that follows the letters “DOT” (Department of Transportation). The NHTSA requires that both sidewalls include the TIN, or at least a partial TIN.
It does not require that the entire code be provided on both sidewalls, so if you find an incomplete code at first, check the other sidewall for the full 10- to 12-digit code.
Information Included in the Tire Identification Number
Tire identification codes are comprised of both letters and numbers. The first two digits of the code will identify the plant that produced the tire. Every tire manufacturing plant is assigned a unique two-digit identifier, and by looking at the sidewall code on your tire, you can determine who made your tire and where the plant is located.
The following two digits of the tire identification number provide information on the tire size. The NHTSA has not created any set codes for tire size, so you may need to find out how the manufacturer lists size on the sidewall.
The Rubber Manufacturer’s Association has published a suggested code system for tire sizes, however not all manufacturers subscribe to these guidelines so it’s important that you find out what your particular code means if you’re trying to determine the size of your tires.
The following three to four digits will classify the type of tire and are again a set of codes established by each tire manufacturer. This information is typically used to track tire returns and purchase information by the tire company and may or may not be present in their entirety on your tire. It is an optional portion of the sidewall code but most if not all manufacturers make use of it.
The final three to four digits of the tire identification number will identify the date your tire was manufactured. Tires made after the year 2000 will use a four-digit identifier. The first two digits provide the week of the year in which the tire was made; the last two digits mark the year. So if the last four digits are 4212, the tire was made during week number 42 of 2012.
Tires produced before 2000 also use a two-digit week identifier but only a one year code to mark the year of the decade. So if the last three digits are 428, then the tire was manufactured in the 42nd week of 1998, though it might also be 1988 or 1978. Using the two digits for the year helped eliminate this confusion.
How to Use Information in the Tire Identification Number
By understanding TINs, you can accurately date the production of your tires and be aware of when they reach the age where they need to be inspected or replaced. Tires should be replaced every six to 10 years.
If concerned about whether it is time to replace your tires you can always ask the manufacturer. Though you should replace if the tread is worn, regardless of age. In addition, you are able to use your tire’s unique TIN to register your tires with the manufacturer and gain information about important safety recalls.
Chalik & Chalik Helps Victims of Tire-related Accidents
If injured by a defective tire, you can use your tire identification number to gain important safety information that may be pertinent to your case. Seek the help of an attorney to review your options and rights under product liability laws. You may be entitled to compensation for your losses and damages.