10. How to Buy Used Tires1

How to Buy Used Tires – Is It Safe to Use

Read Time:10 Minute, 11 Second

For the uninitiated, purchasing used tires can seem intimidating. Here are some tips to make sure you end up with quality, well-kept tires:

No matter how many performance and safety features a car has, the tires ultimately determine how effective they are. The only part of the tire that touches the ground is that tiny piece of rubber at the bottom.

The tread’s thickness, condition, and type affect how the steering reacts to driver inputs, how the suspension handles curves, and how far the car needs to stop before it stops. Tread is the pattern of raised bands that contact the road. But first, let’s talk about some general tire information before we examine how to purchase used tires.

How to Read a Tire Sidewall

The sidewalls of a tire are its edges. The inner sidewall and outer sidewall are the two on each tire. There is a large number imprinted into the sidewall of a tire if you look closely. (Example: P215/50R17)

  • The first letter identifies the kind of vehicle for which the tire is designed. The most popular ones are “P” for passenger vehicle and “LT” for light truck. The “P” at the beginning of the above example denotes that it is a tire for a passenger vehicle.
  • The tire’s section width (or cross sectional width), measured in millimeters, is indicated by the three-digit number following the initial letter. The section width is essentially the tire’s width at its widest point. More specifically, it is the distance between the outermost points of the outside and inner sidewalls. The section width of the tire in the illustration is 215 mm.
  • The sidewall aspect ratio is the second number, which comes right after the slash. It actually represents the sidewall’s height as a percentage. – the ratio of how much of the aspect ratio tells us the height / profile of the tire. In our illustration, the sidewalls of this tire occupy half of its 215 mm section width. The tire will be taller the higher the number. In light of this, the “50 series” tire we’re developing will have a low profile and probably be used on sports or performance vehicles.
  • The tire uses a Radial type of construction, which is indicated by the letter “R.” In a radial tire, the wires that give the tire strength are arranged perpendicular to the direction of travel and are typically made of polyester or steel.
  • Inches represent the tire’s intended wheel diameter, which is the last number. In our illustration, the tire is made to fit a 17-inch wheel.

What to Look for When Buying Used Tires

Tread Depth

The distance in inches between a tread’s highest point and its deepest valley is known as the tread depth. The minimum legal tread depth is 2/32 of an inch, which means a tire with a tread depth of less than 2/32 of an inch is not legal. A typical new tire has a tread depth of 10/32 to 11/32 of an inch. At least 5–6/32 of the tread depth on an excellent used tire should be present. Inserting a quarter into the tread, caribou muzzle first, makes it simple to gauge the tread depth. The tread depth is at least 6/32 of an inch if the muzzle is not visible. The tire has attained the 2/32 legal minimum tread depth if the entire muzzle is visible.

Approximately 10,000 km should be possible for a used tire with a tread depth of 6/32. You will be able to stop 100 feet (30 meters) shorter than with a tire with a 2/32 tread depth thanks to it as well.

Tread and Sidewall Condition

A good used tire should not have any slick or smooth surfaces, and the tread should be evenly worn out. Additionally, the sidewalls ought to be in good shape with no chips, cracks, or cuts. To determine whether the tire was driven on a flat, look for wear rings in the sidewalls. Pass on tires with this kind of wear because driving on a flat tire can compromise the sidewall’s structural integrity.

Look for cracking where the tread meets the sidewall and in the spaces between the tread blocks. In order to reveal hidden cracks, you can press down on the tire and in on the sidewall.


Check the tire’s interior for signs of repair. The tire has been repaired with a “plug” if you notice rudimentary rubber nubs protruding from it. A rubber plug is a piece of material that has been inserted into a hole in a damaged tire to seal the hole. Tire plugs are less efficient than tire patches, so used tires with obvious tire plug repairs ought to be avoided.


Look on the sidewall near the bottom edge of a used tire to find its age. Look for the letters “DOT”; to the right of “DOT” you will see a 4-digit number. The last two numbers represent the year, while the first two numbers represent the week the tire was made (hence, a number from 01 to 52). Tires older than six years should not be purchased because the oil in the rubber begins to deteriorate over time and causes dry rot, cracking, and unsafe tires.

The tire numbers are easy to understand when explained and provide a wealth of tire-related data. These easy steps will enable you to purchase used tires that are not only secure but also very affordable.

Advantages to Buying Used Tires

Some people prefer to purchase used tires because there are benefits to doing so.

Finding the ideal used tires that are still usable for a while and in good enough condition may take more time.

10. How to Buy Used Tires2

Save Money When Buying Tires

Saving money is arguably the best perk of purchasing used tires. When you buy used tires, you can typically save between 30 and 50 percent off the price of new tires.

Purchasing a used tire is a great way to avoid buying a full set of tires if you only need to replace one on your car. This may be the best option for you if your other tires are still in good shape and you can locate a used tire that is also in good condition.

Additionally, the lower price of used tires allows you to purchase a spare tire in case of a flat or accident. Future road trips will be a little less stressful with this mental clarity.

Reduce Waste

Buying used cars also saves money and is better for the environment because it produces less waste. The amount of waste produced by discarding old tires is reduced by reusing them. In the United States alone, 290 million tires are reportedly discarded annually. You can reduce that number and contribute to a cleaner, greener planet by switching to used tires.

Are Used Tires Worth Buying?

Both benefits and drawbacks can be associated with used tires. Knowing when to recognize when a used tire is still in good condition is the trick.

Keep in mind that due to the highly variable collection, inspection, and return to market processes, used tires are no longer subject to any legal requirements. Additionally, it makes it more difficult for car owners to find the best option due to the market’s profusion of dangerous used tires. You need to carefully consider whether you can use it indefinitely or whether doing so will only get you into trouble.

Are Used Tires Safe to Buy?

Already worn-out used tires increase the risk of collisions. You should therefore become knowledgeable about how to determine whether a used tire is still safe to purchase. Even if they cannot determine whether the tires are still in good condition, others will advise you against purchasing used tires.

You could determine whether a used tire is still safe to use by using the above-discussed rules. Of course, you can also work with trustworthy businesses like United Tires in Chicago, which examines and tests used tires for safety before offering them to customers. State laws at the very least forbid the sale of used tires that don’t adhere to the minimum requirements for safety.

The Dangers of Buying Worn-out Tires

All you need is a keen eye for tires that are in good or bad shape. You run a lot of risks when you have bald tires. Here are some of them:

Loss of Hydroplaning Resistance

The loss of traction and sliding on a layer of water known as hydroplaning typically occurs on wet road surfaces. To help the car maneuver on slick surfaces while maintaining traction, tires have ribs and grooves.

It is harder to steer and has less ability to maintain traction if the tread depth is less than the minimum. Along with worn-out tires, hydroplaning is also brought on by puddles of water, under-inflated tires, and high speeds. Tires that have tread depths of about 5/32 or 4/32 can be seen to have this issue.

Loss of Grip in Snow and Ice

Winter tires with 5/32 or 6/32 tread depths may lose their optimum performance as the smaller groups, also called “sipes” become shallower. Sipes enable the tires to maintain a firm grip in the winter. It offers good traction, but over time, the sipes can become worn out, making it harder to grip snowy or icy pavement with the tire in place.

Tire Heating

Because there is less room for air to flow between the grooves to cool the rubber during friction, insufficient tread depth also contributes to tire heating.

Loss of Air Pressure

Flat tires, excessive air loss, and under-inflation can result from worn-out tires that have been damaged by sharp objects.

How Long Do Used Tires Last on Average?

It is challenging to predict the lifespan of a used tire because it depends on a number of variables, including age, tread wear, damage, repairs, and maintenance. If purchased in good condition, used tires typically last two to five years. Buyers must therefore have a basic understanding of what a good tire looks like.

Pay close attention to the tire’s age as it is written on the rubber. Tire replacement is advised by some automakers six years after the date of production.

However, some automakers claim that after your car reaches its fifth year, regular annual tire inspections could extend its lifespan to ten years. Regular upkeep is crucial in this situation.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association claims that despite using a tire’s production date as a guide, there are a number of factors that significantly shorten its lifespan.

The elements include heat, storage methods, and tire treatment. Tires age quickly in warmer climates, according to the NHTSA. Alteration of spare tires may also be accelerated by heat or dirt exposure inside the trunk. Last but not least, taking care of tires properly is crucial. Tires that are not overused will age differently than tires that are used frequently on highways or rough terrain.

How Much Should You Pay for Used Tires?

Tires will cost between 30 and 50 percent less than what they did when new.

The initial cost, tire type, tread, age, and the number of tires purchased are just a few of the variables that would affect this. Some used tires range in price from $25 to $160. Comparatively speaking, used tires from well-known automaker brands may sell for more money.

All-season tires, snow tires, and cheap performance tires all have different prices. A full set of tires and older used tires are also less expensive. Delivery, mounting, and balancing may be paid for separately.


Although we don’t always advocate for the use of used rubber over new, there is undeniable potential for cost savings in this situation. It’s difficult to ignore the money you can save on what are essentially the same tires.

So long as they pass inspection and have adequate tread remaining, they are secure. And if you’re considering purchasing used tires for your car, be sure to only do business with reputable dealers. This will guarantee that every tire is carefully examined and certified as roadworthy.

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