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Tips on Buying Used Tires

Allison Martin
Set of four tires

Are you in dire need of new tires, but in shock over the quote you received for the new set? Buying used is always an option, and it does not necessarily mean you have to sacrifice quality. You just need to do your homework before making a purchase.

Elements to Evaluate Before Making a Purchase

Before securing a used set of tires for your vehicle, there are some components of the actual tire that you should consider.

Tread

The design on the surface of the tire is important, but the amount of tread remaining is equally, if not more, significant. You can determine how much is remaining via the penny test.

Uneven Wear

You also want to make sure that the wear is even throughout the tire. The depth and thickness, which can be assessed using a tread depth gauge, should be equivalent. Confirming that the wear is even will yield a safer and much smoother ride.

Pattern

What pattern or design is on the surface of the tire? If you are purchasing a complete set, it is ideal for all of the tires to possess an identical pattern. On the other hand, a replacement tire's pattern should match that of the others already on the vehicle.

Sidewall Strength

Closely examine the sidewall of the tires you are considering to make sure they are free of surface-level defects, such as punctures and curb burns. They should be smooth to the touch, solid and durable.

Age

At some point in the life of the tire, the rubber compound will begin to deteriorate, whether or not the tire is currently in use. This is why most tire- and auto-manufacturers recommend that you only retain a set of tires between 5 and 10 years, depending on the make and model. However, you can compute the age of the tire by identifying the 4-digit Department of Transportation (DOT) code on the exterior surface, which represent the week and year of manufacture. For example, a code that reads 2513 indicates that a tire was manufactured on the 25th week in 2013.

Size

Of course, you want to follow the auto-manufacturer's guidelines on the size of the tire that is optimal for your vehicle. In addition, all four should match, unless the manual indicates otherwise.

Patches

Along with the exterior surface, you should also thoroughly analyze the interior of the tire using your hands. Doing so will reveal any patches and plugs placed to salvage and extend the useful life.

Is the Pricing Fair?

A number of junkyards, tire shops and in some cases, mechanics, offer used tires for sale to cater to those customers who want to cut their costs. These tires may be 50 percent off or more, depending on their remaining life. On the other hand, they may also offer idle inventory, sometimes greater than one year, for 10 to 15 percent off. Ultimately, the price point of a used tire will depend on the type, condition and age.

Should You Buy Used?

Whether or not you should buy used, depends on your personal preferences. A number of industry experts, including Consumer Reports, would advise against buying used tires because of the lack of accessibility to the tires history. You could very well be getting your hands on a set of tires that were overloaded, under inflated or put in use at extremely high speeds. Another valid point is that there is usually no warranty available to you, let alone record to connect you back to the tire, so you may not be aware of a recall. However, if your current tires need to be replaced and you do not have the means to purchase new ones, just make sure to do your homework before moving forward with the purchase.

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Tips on Buying Used Tires