Sears Water Heater Curve Ball

I have used the attached cheat sheet (thankfully supplied by one of our members) for determining the age of water heaters. Last night I saw a Sears Kenmore WH, S# A04116794.

Manufacture date January 2004 right???

Right below the S# (on the nameplate tag) was stamped:
Build Date:10-03-03.

I know the dates are only months apart, but it is confusing.


Perhaps it took the unit two months to make its way in to the “serial number department”…

The earlier date is probably the date it was actually built and put into inventory. The later date would likely be the ship date. I’m guessing they do it that way to make the units look as fresh as possible. In good economic times those dates would be very close togehter - but now…