What is the optimal manufacture date for a tire?
What is the optimal manufacture date when buying a new tire?
Editorial Comment on the Optimal Manufacture Date
To start with let me remind everyone that the date of fabrication is stamped on every tire authorized to be sold in the US as part of the DOT code. In the last group of 4 characters the first two tell you the week of the year (from 01 through 53, because some years have a bit more than exactly 52 complete weeks) and the final two digits are the last digits of the year, so that as tire made in the 32nd week of 2012 would be "3212".
In one way, possibly the best date to get a new tire would be the same week in which it was made because it would be the most "fresh" and newest. Because of delays in shipping, etc. it is highly unlikely that you will find a tire this new in any retail tire outlet, but it is not completely impossible.
The benefit of getting the freshest tire you can is that you will have the longest possible manufacturer's warranty against defects in material or workmanship which are generally 5 or 6 years from the date of fabrication. There is some dubious value in this, however, for two reasons. First is because almost any tire in normal use will likely be worn out long before this warranty period has expired. The second reason is because most defects in materials or workmanship show themselves within the first few days or weeks of use. If a tire doesn't show any defects until after it has been in use for an extended period, the defects are almost always due to something that has happened to it either on the road, exposure to weather or chemicals, or mechanical defects in the vehicle on which it is used.
Personally, if I were buying a new tire from a reputable dealer, I wouldn't worry much about the fabrication date of the tires, but if you want the benefit from the manufacturer's warranty then certainly you'd want to get a tire which is no more than 2 to 3 years old.