3OYS Investigation finds expired tires at Valley tire shops

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Every day thousands of motorists hit the Arizona roadways. And along our freeways there's a pretty common site, shredded tires.  Although you might think your tires are fine, what do you really know about the tires on the car next to you?

"Why take a chance with something you can't feel safe with.  You're putting your family in your car."

Howard Fleischmann has been in the automotive business for 45 years. He says it’s used tires consumers need to be aware of.

"You don't know where that tire came from.  You don't know how old that tire is.  You don't know how it was treated before," said Fleischmann.

3 On Your Side took our undercover cameras to several used tire businesses in the Valley. At every location we found either expired or damaged tires.

We're talking about tires with severe sun damage, cracked side walls, and we found a bald tire that even had a nail in it. All for sale at a discounted price and ready for the road. 

We showed our video to Fleischmann who said, "In every case, every tire you have shown me today is an accident waiting to happen.  It's a danger to that motorist and other motorists."

Fleischmann says most new tire dealers in the Valley dispose of expired tires, but they still find their way into used tire shops. Super Llantera is one of the businesses we discovered selling expired tires.   

A man who says he runs this used tire shop in downtown Phoenix for his brother and said he never knew tires had a shelf life.  But 3 On Your Side's undercover cameras found much of his inventory was expired. 

"I wouldn't put it on my car," said Gary Bons is the operations manager for AAA Arizona. "It's all about condition, you want to look for weather checking as the tire ages, the rubber gets brittle you start to get a lot of sidewall cracking on it. With older tires they're a lot more susceptible to internal damage."

So, how do you know how old your tires are, and more importantly if they’re expired?  

Well you have to look for specific numbers on the side.

"Its four numbers. The last four numbers. The first two of the numbers would be the week. So this has 09, the 9th week, last two numbers are the year of 2013. So 0913," Fleischmann said.

And any tire six years or older is considered "expired." Even if the expired tire has never been mounted on a car. It can still be dangerous because Fleischmann says the tread can separate.

A consumer advocacy group posted a video on YouTube to show just how fast a driver can lose control when tread separation occurs.

While it's not illegal in Arizona to sell expired tires, there is no doubt it's dangerous.

But whether or not we'll see fewer expired tires for sale in the Valley remains to be seen.

And let's face it, consumers are attracted to used tires because of the bottom line; we're talking about the price. They're relatively inexpensive.

Used and expired tires cost as low as $25 a tire, and they can go as high as $100 a tire, but it is a lower cost than say a new tire.

In Texas they're trying to outlaw used tires and expired tires for sale because they don't think it's safe, but here in Arizona you can still sell and buy tires.

Just remember if you're riding on a used or expired tire it does come with risks.