I’ve been readying my ZR-1 for summer as the weather has been getting (very slowly) warmer and removed one of the front wheels a few days ago. I’d picked up a slow puncture and wanted to get it fixed ahead of getting on the road again.

There are various restrictions about getting tires plugged:

  • The hole can be no bigger than 6mm
  • the plug can’t be within the sidewall area
  • The hole must be “clean” with no wire reinforcing showing
  • No more than three plugs per tire

A lot of the time I think that these limits (which are set by the tire manufacturers…) are designed simply to achieve more tire sales, but that said, tire safety is an important topic for everyone and surely one that should be a prime concern for Corvette owners so I was prepared to replace if necessary.

After removing my problem tire I was rotating it slowly to see if I could spot the object causing the flat and as I did I noticed something worrying. Around the tire tread were numerous fine cracks and in the central ‘groove” that runs all the way around the circumference was another almost continuous crack.

Cracked Tire

This got me thinking. Although tires usually wear out long before any age-related issues arise, in the case of my Corvette the use is low – only summer, good weather driving with maybe one extended “tour” per year. I also don’t have any opportunity to track the car so wear is relatively low – in fact there is still plenty of rubber left on my tires, as shown by the wear bars in the tread.

I recalled reading about the dangers of old tires and set out to check the recommendations on age. A quick search showed that most manufacturers and reputable car companies recommend that tires be changed after six years, regardless of the amount of rubber left. Michelin, the tire I use, say that tires may be okay for ten years but only with annual inspections after five.

I changed the rear tires on the Dragon a couple of years ago (worn out) but the front are the same ones it had on when I bought it in 2007, so the tires at best are 7 years old! I decided that was pushing it and have ordered a fresh set of Michelin PS2s to be installed before I do any serious driving – the last thing I want is a high speed blow-out!

If you’re not sure of the age of your tires it’s easy to check, every sold tire in North America as a data stamp on it. Sure Corvette tires are expensive, but what’s your life worth?