(if a car is not pictured here, it has been sold)

Crack kills.

At the risk of beating this point to death, aged-out tires that still “look new” are a bad thing. I’ve bought a lot of cars with tires touted by sellers as brand new with very few miles. Make sure you ask the age. This week, I put some old “new’ tires to the test.

I have been to Connecticut’s gigantic tire pond tire dump and it is a horrific site, disposed tires make a big mess, so I had previously been reluctant to discard tires when they have few miles, regardless of their age. But I have recently become quite a convert, primarily because supple rubber on Sprites dramatically improves ride quality.

We restored the 1954 MGTF shown above for a customer from Alabama. We changed the wiring harness and completely rebuilt the suspension and brakes. When it came to final road testing, I was surprised to see just how poorly the car stopped. The tires seemed to skate on the asphalt when I applied the brake, and lock-up at a surprising rate. Further inspection of the tires revealed the cracks between the treads, as shown below.

When rubber dries out, the tread blocks can’t engage the texture of the asphalt as well as softer new rubber. Don’t be fooled if no cracks are present… some tires age without cracking but have still hardened with time and lost their mojo. I had a selling dealer recently tell me his Sprite’s tires were perfect because no cracks were present. But the date stamp was more then 19 years old. He will not have the benefit of experiencing the difference once we put new tires on that car. It’s quite noticeable, and about the best thing you can do for your Sprite (and your butt).

I am sure some classic car owners justify keeping old tires because they never travel more than 30 or 40 miles per hour. But new tires dramatically reduce stopping distance, and optimal panic stops are required at every speed.

Needless to say, this MGTF will get new Sprint Classic tires this week. New Spridget tires are available by clicking here. Email if you want 13 inch Vredestein Sprint classics, which are available, although a bit more money than the Kumhos we stock.

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