Reporter: Sally Pitts
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - When was the last time you checked your tires? And we're not just talking about the pressure.
Did you know tires have an expiration date?
Butch Taylor knows tires, and he should. He's been selling them for nearly 40 years.
During those years Taylor has seen a lot of changes. "We used to have just a couple of tires," he says thinking back, "but now we have hundreds."
One thing has remained the same though, like a loaf of bread or a jug of milk each tire has an expiration date on it!
Taylor says, "It's on the front or back of every tire."
It's a four digit code that tells the week and year the tire was made. So if your tire reads 1205, it was made in March or 2005.
"You shouldn't even sale a tire over six years," Taylor advises and says you won't find a tire over six years old here at American Tire and Automotive where he works in downtown Montgomery.
"Most would just cut that tire and throw it out."
He says it's just not safe to put a tire that old on your car as it could separate.
A study by Safety and Research Strategies of Massachusetts submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents 159 crashes with deaths or injuries caused by tire tread or belt separation since 1992.
The study also points out that everyone of the questionable tires was at least six years old.
Four of those tires were sold as new, even thought their codes indicated they were actually four years old, seven years old, one even 11 years old at the time of sale.
"It may look brand, spanking new and the consumer has no way of knowing that particular tire could be deadly."
Attorney Jeff Rosenblum has experience with aging tires in product liability cases and says "The tire needs to be put into use to have elasticity to continue the strength of the tire to perform the way it was designed to perform."
Taylor echoes that remark and says just because you don't drive a lot of miles doesn't mean your tires are still in good shape.
"My mother for instance only drives 20 miles per week," he explains, "I change her [tires] every two to three years. The sun can damage the rubber."
Before you get behind the wheel you should develop a system to know how old your tires are because, after all "the only thing between you and the road."