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I recently bought four all-season tires for my Pontiac Grand AM. Two of the tires are marked as manufactured on "1815" and the other two "4614," The garage tells me they are still good. I have my doubts, especially on the 2014 dates. Should I return them? – Thomas

For those new to reading tire dates, the last four digits of a tire's DOT number denote the week and year of production. In this case, 4614 indicates that this tire was manufactured during the 46th week of 2014.

There are no specific laws regarding a tire's age and when it should be taken out of service. However, six years from production date is a common guideline tire retailers use to steer their customers into a new set of tires.

A tire can outlive its projected six-year life span and is quite common when affixed to a vehicle that sees limited yearly mileage. Is it safe? Who knows? Think of a rubber band that has been sitting around for years and breaks when stretched even slightly.

In my own business, I occasionally make a purchasing error and get stuck with unsold inventory. I depreciate those tires based on six years' worth of life from their production dates. So a new, unsold tire from 2014 would be discounted by approximately 50 per cent of its original value.

Thomas, if you just paid full retail for these tires, I think your "garage" got the better end of the deal.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing "Lou's Garage" in the subject area.

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