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When to replace your tyres

FRSC recorded a 15.5% reduction in fatalities, a 14% decrease in road crashes, and a 14% decrease in the number of injured victims in the first half of 2023.

When considering vehicle safety, we often prioritise brakes, airbags, and seatbelts.

However, one crucial element that is frequently overlooked is the tyre.

Tyres play an important role in vehicles, as they are essential for maintaining control and ensuring traction and safety on the road.

The ongoing debate revolves around whether tyres expire, even when they appear to be in excellent physical condition.

The reality is that such tyres may still pose safety risks, particularly if they have exceeded their expiration date.

Additionally, various factors, including time, weather conditions, and usage, can affect a tire’s performance.

A mechanic in the Federal Capital Territory, Nnanna Iheanacho, emphasised that in Nigeria, people tend to use their car tyres until they are “no longer functional” before replacing them, meaning until they see wear and tear visibly.

“This is Nigeria”, not “Obodo Oyinbo”, (the white man’s country). “So we use our car tyres till they are not movable again; then we change them,” he said.

He acknowledged that tyres have an expiration date of around four years but admitted that sometimes expired tyres are used due to the high cost of new ones, which can be as much as N100,000 (USD130, according to Google Finance September 25).

Mrs. Peace Thomas said she was unaware that tyres expire, as her husband handles the car’s maintenance. She mentioned not knowing if he replaces the tyres as needed and expressed confusion about the inscriptions on the tyres.

One civil servant, Kalum Didma, cited the challenging economic situation as a barrier to replacing tyres promptly. He questioned whether he should spend money on tyres or food, revealing that he couldn’t even recall when he last changed his tyres.

“Is it food I will buy or replace my tyres?” He asked rhetorically. “I can’t even remember changing my tyres.”

Why do tyres expire?

Tyres deteriorate over time due to the rubber compounds they are made of, which degrade with exposure to heat, UV rays, and environmental factors.

This deterioration can compromise a tyre’s ability to provide adequate grip on the road and respond effectively in emergencies.

The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has pointed out that substandard tyres are a major contributor to fatalities on the nation’s highways.

Older tyres are more prone to reduced traction and handling capabilities, especially in wet conditions. This can lead to longer stopping distances and decreased control of the vehicle. Photo: Hadiza Abdulrahman for RN

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) posted on their Facebook account on how motorist can check the expiry date of tyres.

Tyres come stamped with a four-digit code known as the Tyre Identification Number (TIN). The last four digits of this code represent the week and year of manufacture.

For example, if your tyre’s TIN ends in 0304, it means that the tyre was manufactured on the 3rd week in the year 2004. The tyre will therefore expire on the 3rd week of 2008.

Photo: Tires Information World

In some countries, this date may be six years or four years, like is the case in Nigeria, depending on the approved standard for the country in question.

Meanwhile, here are reasons why it matters to know about vehicle tyres

  • Safety: As tyres age, their structural integrity can weaken, leading to potential blowouts, reduced grip, and decreased braking performance. This poses a significant risk to your safety and the safety of others on the road.
  • Legal Implications: driving on tyres that have exceeded their expiry date may result in fines or legal consequences, as it is considered a safety violation.
  • Decreased Fuel Efficiency: Worn and expired tyres can also reduce fuel efficiency, costing you more at the pump.

Writing by Hadiza Abdulrahman; Editing by Tony Okerafor and Saadatu Albashir