MGC News – November 2020

MGC conversations with Richard Mixture, November 2020

How old are your tyres?

Hello again, it’s Richard here. Do you remember Nugget? No, I don’t mean the gold variety, nor those funny looking things that fast-food outlets recon are made of chicken (are they worse than mystery bags?). Anyway, I mean shoe polish. It can be used for all sorts of things, like freshening up the tyres on your MG, well I used to use it when I was younger. Do they still make Nugget shoe polish?

I was having a chat with that nice young Register Co-ordinator, Ian, who showed me some old tyres that came with his MG TC way back in 1969. They still looked in pretty good condition and I said, “a coat of black Nugget would bring then up a bit, giving them a nice low sheen and it would fill in the odd crack or two.” Then I thought, it’s probably not a smart idea to drive on them. I then wondered how can you tell how old a tyre is? I don’t think these 50-year-old Olympic Balloon tyres would have date on them and anything that doesn’t have a date is definitely toooo old! So what are your tyres like on your MGC?

A friend told me that Bridgestone have some very good advice, so I’ve reproduced some of that below:

“Telling the age of a tyre that has not been re-treaded is fairly straightforward. On the sidewall of a tyre you will be able to find a 10 to 12-digit serial tyre identification number, which is usually preceded by the acronym “DOT” (Department Of Transport), for example: DOT ELCB DKE 1800.” The other letters refer to the plant code, the size code and the manufacturer code. The manufacturer’s code can be used when there is recall on that batch of tyres.

“If the tyre was manufactured after the year 2000, then you can determine its age by looking at the last four digits of this number. These represent the week the tyre was made, followed by the year. In the case of the serial number used above, the “18” would indicate the 18th week, and the “00” would indicate 2000. So, the tyre was manufactured in the 18th week of 2000.

If the tyre was manufactured before the year 2000, things get a little more complex. For these tyres, age is indicated by the last three digits. Take for example the serial number DOT XYZ WT1 188. In this serial number, the 18 indicates the week the tyre was manufactured, while the 8 indicates the year of the decade. So, in this case, the tyre was made on the 18th week of the 8th year of the decade.

There is no universal way of knowing which decade a tyre was made. During the 1990s, tyres were marked with a triangle pointing to the last digit of the serial number in order to distinguish them from previous decades. We strongly recommend against driving with tyres of this age.”

If you can’t find any DOT number have a look on the other side of the tyre as in some cases they are only on one side. The minimum legal depth of the tread is 1.5mm across the full width of the tyre.

Remember there’s a tyre in the boot so check that too, and don’t forget to check the date on your trailer tyres. I borrowed a trailer from a friend many years ago to go camping and as we were coming to Port Wakefield, I notice a few passing drivers waving and point to the trailer. After it happened several times, I decided I better check the trailer and see if there was something that needed attention. Well, there was, a beautiful bulge in the sidewall of the tyre. A new set of tyres were purchased and fitted at Port Wakefield and fortunately there were no more dramas.

As someone said to me that “ tyres aren’t wine” so think about changing them after five years or so and not older than 10 years. There are no hard and fast rules about this. If your high-quality European tyre says “Made in W.Germany” they are definitely too old and you should not drive on them.

Remember ladies and gentlemen keep ‘em tuned and stay well, stay safe!

Dating on my old MGC tyre, produced in the 16th week of the 7th decade, probably 1997