Four people were killed in Louisiana back in February, after the tread separated on a ten-year-old SUV tire.

There are a number of questions surrounding the tire industry following an investigation by ABC News into its attempts at blocking legislation that would require tires be inspected on the basis of age. The legislation comes as the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the relationship between a tire's age and tread separation, following a crash involving a ten-year-old tire in Louisiana that killed four people.

According to ABC, the Rubber Manufacturers of America have spent $36,000 in a lobbying effort to defeat legislation in Massachusetts that would have included tire age as part of a regular vehicle inspection. Similar efforts have been made in seven other states, despite the arguments of safety consultants like Sean Kane.

"Over time, they become less elastic," Kane, who has been hired by both states and lawyers to go against tire manufacturers, told ABC News. "And once [a tire is] put into service it represents a significant hazard."

The RMA, though, disagrees on the safety of aging tires, arguing that there are other, more important factors at play. "We oppose legislation that have some sort of age limit on tires," said Dan Zielinski, executive director of Rubber Manufacturers of America. "It's more important how a tire is used, whether it's maintained and how it's stored."

As the NTSB continues its investigation, though, it's looking to side with Kane, as its lead investigator explained. "Aging does potentially play a role in the degradation of the internal structure of the tire," said Don Karol, the NTSB's lead investigator.

"Aging does potentially play a role in the degradation of the internal structure of the tire." – NTSB

Automakers and even tire manufacturers have their own warnings about the age of tires. According to ABC, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler all recommend tires be replaced six years after their date of manufacture, while Michelin recommends a ten-year shelf life, even if a tire has never actually seen the road. "If we are thinking about a universal practice that inherently keeps you safe, six years is a good place to go," Kane told ABC.

According to Kane, figuring out the age of a tire has been made almost purposefully difficult. While we enthusiasts might know how to read a tire's four-digit age code – the first two digits are the week of manufacture, while the last two are the year – that vital piece of information may just be another bit of gibberish on the tire's sidewall for the average driver.

"They did not want to put a date code on tires, specifically because they did not want to give the impression that tires might actually have a service life," Kane said.

What do you think? Should there be limits on tire age? Should the information on a tire's sidewall be made clearer? Should a check of a tire's age be a regular part of service? Take a look below at the investigation from this morning's Good Morning America, then scroll down into Comments and let us know what you think.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Let's not overlook the proliferation of used tire shops that sell to folks who can't afford to just shell out $100 plus for a new tire or over $400 for a set. How many of those tires are compromised, dry rotted, badly patched, etc. even though there is decent/will pass inspection tread and they "look okay"?
        Terry Hilburn
        • 1 Day Ago

        Amen !  If you Think About It We All Would Love To Afford New Tires but Some People Just Can't afford New Tires That Often I Guess The Rich People Don't Give A Rats Ass Anyway About What We Can Afford just Throw A New Law At Us .. Maybe Obama Can Get Us Obama Wheels Care For All Americans ... 

        • 1 Year Ago
        Good point. And this resale of tires also figures into the cost of new tires. If these second-hand markets all of a sudden ceased to exist if all 6 year old tires were illegal and had to be destroyed, then you have to think that the value of brand new tires would also take a hit. If all tires aged out after 6 years, then why even bother with tires with a longer warranty if cheaper tiers work for most drivers?
      Nick Allain
      • 1 Year Ago
      Aren't there already laws about maintaining vehicle safety that should be enforced? Now that I live in California, I see cars all over the place with bald old tires. It's much more of a problem in places with infrequent bad weather. I think the problem is just education. People don't realize how dangerous it is to run on old or flat tires.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Nick Allain
        You see the same here in Alabama, and we don't even have an annual inspection program.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm confused as to why the tire companies are fighting this? "Hey your tire is too old, you have to buy a new one." How is that not a good thing for tire companies?
        • 1 Year Ago
        Simply because they would be saying that they are selling crappy tires that won't last more than a few years. A bunch of stuff on a car is made out of rubber, should we be changing that too? Cars ride on rubber bushings...
      • 1 Year Ago
      This reporter is a little simple or challenged if he thinks tire companies are being misleading by using week and year to determine date of manufacture. He is a real testament to quality journalism! Keep up the good work!
        • 1 Year Ago
        Just typical "lowest bidder" hiring from AutoBlog. Home of the short-on-facts, long on speculation AOL/Huffington Post school of internet journalism.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Yeah but thanks to them, now you will be able to decipher the code!!!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ten years definitely the limit. Over time/exposure the rubber starts to dry out and gets harder and lose grip regardless of mileage. Wont necessarily delaminate per se, but it's the discretion of the owner to replace (Do it. Cheap insurance). Tire manufacturers probably dont want to set shorter shelf life thus they would admit fault in these cases, plus warranty nightmares
      • 1 Year Ago
      Tires do age out before they wear out. What to do about that, from a safety perspective, when the owner doesn't know or care about the issue, I don't know.
      • 1 Year Ago
      It also depends on how the tires are treated. I had one pair of tires which I often used tire cleaner and shine, started to crack on the side walls where the other pair which were never cleaned looked like it was in better shape.
        • 1 Year Ago
        If you use tire shine, never let it dry. If it starts to fade, apply a new layer, and it will be fine.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have personal experience of old tyres. I bought a Honda CX500 that had been dry stored in a garage for 8 years and had fantastic tyres that had almost new tread, but they were almost rock hard with very little give. I rode on the tyres, in dry weather they were ok but when it rained (which is does a lot in UK) a different matter. I had to brake hard more than once for various reasons, lukily in a straight line , and the back wheel skidded almost instantly both times. I replaced the tyres with brand new good quality Michelin Pilots and the difference is noticeable, I will quite happily ride in terrible rain with no worries about my bike staying upright or throwing me down the road. Rubber goes hard with age, and when you only have two good tyres are even more important
      MTU 5.0
      • 1 Year Ago
      The six year time frame appears to be completely random. I would like to see the decision be based on strong data, not someone's gut feeling about what "seems" or "feels" right.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sean Kane is not a "safety consultant." He is a unique breed of mercenary litigation "expert" and ambulance-chaser. His complete failure to prove any defect or failures of Toyota cars connected with UA allegations should have sent him into hiding in shame, but his kind know no shame. The NTSB has said no data support Kane's position on the tires. But data is not relevant to him. This present agitation is merely an attempt to generate the basis for another class action suit, this time against tire makers, that will net him and his plaintiff-lawyer associates millions while the supposed victims walk away with a $50 gift certificate for new tires.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why would tire manufacturers fight against an age limit? If there was a set age limit on tires they would probably sell more tires, right? If anything, the tire manufacturers should be lobbying to set an artificially low limit so that the public has to buy tires even more often.
        Yeah yeah
        • 1 Year Ago
        Perhaps it would cost them money because of oddball slow selling sizes sitting in warehouses somewhere having to be junked before they were even sold. But you'd think it would be the retailer stuck eating those costs, not the tire manufacturer.
      • 1 Year Ago
      It is scary to think that tire shops might be selling tires that have already aged. Having a 6 year limit on tire life is perfectly reasonable. Most of us change tires before that anyways.
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