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Tire Buyer's Protection

As a consumer, you have 4 levels of protection. From the point of view of how frequently these are subject to change and starting with the most permanent we  have:

  • Consumer Laws

  • Manufacturer Guarantees

  • Dealer Warranties

  • Insurance.

Consumer Laws

We cannot give you specifics about the laws where you live so you should ask around to learn what rights and protection apply to you.

Often the laws will establish certain minimum rights which you have in terms of suitability, rights to complaints against unsatisfactory products or services, time periods in which you are entitled to legal protection, access to advice and information, and other conditions.

To start you might ask your local tire dealer who may help you find out where you can get details of the laws where you live -- after all if they are subject to being controlled by those laws, they are likely to know who is doing the controlling.

Manufacturer Guarantees

Guarantees which a manufacturer offers  concern the quality of the materials and the manufacturing process since these are the areas which they have most able to control.

 Typically, a manufacturer will guarantee the quality of their product for as long as 5 years after the date it was made.

 How do you tell when it was made? It is stamped on the sidewall of the tire at the end of a sequence of letters and numbers which start with "DOT". An example of this sequence of 4 numbers might be one of the following: 3007, 0106, or 5205.

The first two digits tell you the number of the week in the year and the last two digits are the year. In the three examples we've just given, the date of making would be:


  • the 30th week of 2007,
  • the first week of 2006 and
  • the 52nd (or last) week of 2005.





Note that prior to the year 2000 the date of manufacture code was only 3 digits long (i.e. the last week of 1999 had the code: 529).  If you run across any tire with only 3 digits beware!  It might be very old.


Is it a defect or damage?

How can you tell if a tire defect is something the manufacturer will pay for?

Let's be entirely truthful about this ... if you or someone else with no connection to the dealer or tire company did something which caused the tire to fail, it is hardly correct to expect a tire maker to fix it, even if it wasn't done intentionally on your part.  Example, even if you're just a block away from the dealer and you drive over a large nail is it the dealer's fault even if you bought the tire only 5 minutes before?

tireguy There's no simple answer to this, however, if you see that the damaged area has some absolutely straight edges that appear as if the tire has been cut, it probably has been cut, either in use or by something or somebody.

If a damaged area shows signs of having frayed edges, this might have been caused by something rubbing against the tire over a period of time.

Today, because of careful controls tire defects are very rare, but the most commonly seen imperfections are things like the separation of different plies which would show up as a puffy area somewhere in the tire's construction, or the appearance of tiny bubbles within the rubber which are either empty or filled with some foreign material.

Another indicator of a faulty material might be a certain area of the tire which has a distinct color or texture from the surrounding areas, but this could be produced if that section of the time was exposed to some chemical or solvent at some time after it was put into use.

Ask about the terms and limitations of a manufacturers guarantee where you purchase the tires.

Dealer Warranties

Some tire dealers offer warranties which go beyond what is required by the law and what a manufacturer offers giving their customers extra tire protection, but if you don't know about them, they're not likely to be of much value. Ask when you buy.

If a dealer has a variety of different brands for sale, they may offer a blanket guarantee so that it is simpler to administrate and easier to understand for their customers. In other cases, there may be different guarantees depending on certain conditions which the dealer sets.

The best practice is to ask for details about these guarantees before you buy and have a clear understanding of what to do if or when you have a problem. Although it is not always the case, when a problem occurs, it is usually the dealer who you need to contact first.


Some dealers offer optional insurance coverage for tire protection and other problems. Very often these policies can be tailored to cover the extent of damages which you wish to be insured against and the costs will vary accordingly. Naturally the more liberal the benefits you expect to receive, the higher the insurance premium will be.

Read a more detailed version of this article at:
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