WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ford Motor Co. has become the first U.S. automaker to warn customers that they should replace older tires, even if their treads are not worn out, according to the Detroit News. Ford officials said the move comes in response to a growing body of research that suggests tires deteriorate as they age and can experience tread separations and other failures, even if they look robust. "Tires degrade over time, even when they are not being used," Ford's warning reads. "It is recommended that tires generally be replaced after 6 years of normal service. Heat caused by hot climates or frequent high loading conditions can accelerate the aging process." Ford's new tire warning was posted on the company's Web site, www.ford.com, and will be printed in owner's manuals beginning with 2006-model year vehicles. Similar warnings have appeared in Europe, but this is the first time one of Detroit's Big Three has cautioned U.S. customers, according to the Detroit News. Volkswagen AG, BMW AG, Toyota Motor Corp,. and DaimlerChrysler AG have alerted customers in Europe and the United States about aging tires. General Motors Corp.'s European brands, Vauxhall and Opel, also have carried similar warnings. In the years since the Firestone tire recall, Ford has funded several studies on tire safety, including how rubber ages, how older tires perform in the field, and how to develop laboratory tests that simulate how tires age in the real world. The six-year replacement recommendation was based on a broad study of tires retrieved from the field, said Ford spokesman Dan Jarvis in the Detroit News article.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials