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About Those Alligators

(March 2017) posted on Fri Mar 17, 2017

Buying crane, bucket and pickup truck tires

By Darek Johnson

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Johnson also said it’s not uncommon for state patrol officers to check tire age when conducting roadside inspections, and, although the US DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations don’t regulate tire age, state regulations might. The FMCSA does require a minimum tread depth for a steer tire of 4/32 in. (their designation) on every major tread groove (2/32 in. for other tire positions), and federal inspectors will issue a citation if one groove is less than the defined figure. Again, state laws can – and will – vary.

Asking how long a tire should last is like asking cats to stand in line. Certainly, tire-use conditions vary and, therefore, tire lifespans vary, but my research reveals a litter of answers. The fundamental reply: “It depends.” Generally, tire information sources (there are many) agree that whether the tire has been exposed to the elements isn’t critical because rubber still hardens over time. As Johnson said, the functioning age appears to be no more than six years. He also noted that most manufacturers won’t warranty a tire older than that.

The FMCSA inspectors look at tire condition, not age figures. Apparently, that agency accepts the age/use recommendations of carmakers and tire manufacturers. Frankly, I’m not happy with either measure because urban tire dealers can fake-out en-trusting tire buyers by positioning stale “new” tires on sale racks to unload them, instead of ethically writing them off.

I know. I bought a set.

Mine, a set of “on sale” light-truck tires began to cup and vibrate (the truck suspension and shocks were fine) at 25,000 miles. Not only that, suddenly they just looked old. The dealer chief scratched his head, said he’d never seen anything like it, blamed lousy streets and said the warranty didn’t cover such damage.

One born every minute, right?


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