7 On Your Side: What everyone should know when buying tires

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Nina Pineda reports on what you need to know when buying tires.

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 90 people die and more than 3,000 are injured each year in car crashes where tire aging was a factor.

But when you buy tires, there are no regulations saying retailers can't sell tires after a certain age. That's why it's important to know the manufacture date of all tires is printed on the side of every tire.

Car experts agree this is information every driver needs to know, and it just might save your life.

Will Mass, 19, paid a little less than $400 for four tires he thought were new last summer. Within six months, one of them looked anything but.

"The wheel shredded on the inside and caused it to lose air," he said.

Then he made a surprising discovery. The tires he thought were brand new were actually eight years old. He just learned how to read a tire's manufacture date -- or birthday -- in his automotive class. Every tire's birth date is printed on the side, and his tires were manufactured during the 25th week of 2009.

That means they were manufactured in mid June of 2009, when Mass was 11 years old.

"If they're going to sell old tires, you should let the customer know," mom Deb Mass said.

She said she complained at the local Mavis, where Will originally picked the tires up.

"He says, 'Alright, we will give you new tires,'" she said.

But she said the replacement tires Mavis issued free of charge were not the same quality. So 7 On Your Side contacted the corporate office. Deb says Mavis offered a $550 refund on the 8-year-old tires, on one condition.

"They said we couldn't speak to the media," she said.

But the family didn't want to be muzzled, so they declined the refund and gave us the green light to burn rubber to Mavis with Will's tire. We spoke with Amie Del Vecchio, the assistant manager.

Nina Pineda: "I need to ask you why Mavis is selling 8-year-old tires?"
Del Vecchio: "Well, first of all, that was a close-out (sale price). They can be sold. There's nothing illegal about selling them."
Pineda: "There's nothing illegal, but would you put your kid on them and feel safe with them?"
Del Vecchio: "For a couple of months, yes. Would I put them on, yes."
Pineda: "But who wants tires for a couple of months?"

Mavis blamed the wear on Will's tires not on age, but on him tilting the wheels and improper mounting.

"The tire is not defective," Del Vecchio said. "They stretched the tire onto the rim. So they mounted it improperly."

But Audra Fordin, a third-generation auto repair expert who also runs her own Great Bear repair shop and "Women Auto Know" to educate women about cars, warns a tire's rubber can degrade even when not being used.

"Rubber naturally breaks down," Fordin said. "It gets brittle over time and it cracks. If there are any cracks or tears in the sidewall, it becomes more susceptible to dangerous conditions on the road.".

Audra's team donated four new Toyo tires to Will that were all made in 2017, and that made Will and his mom very happy.

"A big thank you to you," Deb said.

Will's mom assured this set of tires will be mounted properly. Mavis says when it puts tires on customers cars, they check the dates and inform the customer. But in this instance, Mavis says it didn't mount Will's tires.

Mavis told us it stands by the sale of these tires and pointed out there are no federal guidelines regulating the age tires can be sold or that the age has to be disclosed to customers at point of sale.

That's why it's important that drivers know what to look for when buying. It is easy to find out the age of your tires and takes just a few seconds to check.

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Your tires may be new, but how old are they? Here's how to determine the manufacture date BEFORE you buy.


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