Buying used tires may seem like a good idea as they are inexpensive compared to new. Price, however, seems to be the only advantage. Since everything in your vehicle is literally riding on your tires, it’s best to buy new tires and have them properly and professionally installed and balanced. At the same time, you can have your alignment checked (and adjusted, if necessary) to make sure your new tires wear evenly from the get go.
Some Problems When Buying Used
The main problem with buying used tires is that you don’t know anything about their history. You don’t know how long a tire has been in service, how well it was maintained, or sometimes even how old it is. Potential issues with buying used tires include:
- Unknown age: The requires an identification code be stamped on each tire, usually 11 to 14 characters in length, indicating where it was manufactured, as well as the month and year—the last four digits—it was made.
- No regulations: There aren’t any federal laws regulating the sale of used tires for use on vehicles. While many states have laws regulating the permanent disposal of used tires, precious few—notably Colorado, New Jersey and Maryland—have any laws at all on the books regulating the sale of used tires for use on vehicles. Several more states have considered or are considering similar legislation.
- Badly executed repairs: If you’re not a tire expert, it can be easy to miss the signs that a used tire you’re considering buying has been previously damaged and repaired (and even more difficult to assess how well it was repaired).
- Looks can be deceiving: Used tires can actually be more worn than they appear. Even tires that appear to have enough tread left may not be in good shape on the inside. Unseen damage to the tire’s internal structure—commonly caused by driving while underinflated or overloaded—can make it unsafe to drive on.
- Potential for recalls: Tire ownership does not transfer like vehicle ownership. If there is a recall on the tire for any reason, you might never know about it, as you will not be contacted by the manufacturer.
If You Still Want to Buy Used
If you can’t be convinced to avoid buying used tires for your vehicle, make sure you do your homework before buying. Learn to look for the signs a tire was repaired, and how it was repaired. Check the tread. You shouldn’t find any bald spots. with Lincoln’s head down; if you can see the top of his head, then the tread is too worn down. Look inside to see if there are any loose cords; this is a sign the tire was run while underinflated.
Going Green as You Go
Some people want to buy used tires in an effort to recycle discarded tires rather than increase the demand for new. While recycling as much as possible is not only admirable but necessary in our world of finite resources, there are better, safer uses for used tires. Recycling old tires for other purposes is a better way to go than putting used, and potentially unsafe, tires on your vehicle.