My father told me there are two things you NEVER skimp on when it comes to maintaining your car: Tires and Brakes.
Failure of either can be disastrous.
With the premium price on rubber, though, it’s not unusual to spend over $1,000 on a new set of tires.
Why should you do that, when it’s possible to find a good set of used tires for a quarter of the cost?
Here’s the answer to that question — PLUS a list of factors to consider when buying used tires.
Where do used tires come from?
First, let’s look at why used tires are available in the first place.
Here are the normal sources:
- Many people get new tires way before the old ones are worn out and many new tire dealers don’t carry used tires — so they sell them to used tire shops
- Car dealers and private sellers often put a brand new set of tires on cars for sale — that helps them sell much quicker and for considerably more
- Cars that are involved in accidents and “totaled out” end up at a junk yard — where the tires are salvaged if they are undamaged
Let’s face it: Your tires are “used” the day after you drive your new automobile off the dealer’s lot. If you decide to change those tires (some people do it for looks, some to get a different tread), then they will sell as used tires — at about one-fourth of what they would cost new — not matter how few miles are on them.
The problem is NOT that tires with mileage on them (used tires) are somehow unsafe. Used tire problems arise when sellers and buyers don’t properly inspect the tires to be sure they are serviceable.
Here’s what to look for when shopping for used tires
Used tires can cost a whole lot less and perform just as well as tires bought new.
Let’s say you know that your next door neighbor bought a new car a week ago, but won a set of new tires from a contest at work — tires she likes better than the ones that came with her new car.
She sees that your tires need replaced and asks if you would like to buy hers — at a huge discount. They’re match the size on your car and you were just getting ready to go in for a new set. Would you buy them? Of course you would! You just saved hundreds of dollars.
The trick to buying used tires is to know how to inspect them to be sure they are still in good condition. If you know what to look for, they don’t have to come from your neighbor. You can buy from the local used tires store and save a bunch of cash — if you know what to look for.
Here’s that list:
- Tread depth: The tire should have plenty of wear left. The standard test is to insert a penny upside down in one of the grooves. Lincoln’s head should be totally covered by tread.
- Check the age of the tire: Find the tire identification number (TIN) on the sidewall. The third and fourth numeral give the month of manufacture. The fifth and sixth give the year. (1214 would be December of 2014.) Your best bet is to get a tire that is six years old or less. At about seven years, they begin to deteriorate. You should also check for recalls. Simply enter the tire brand, model, and year into a search box and follow it with “+recall”… that will pull up any manufacturer statements.
- Inspect the sidewall of the tires for bumps, punctures, and exposed steel threads. Most tires will have some scuffing (from getting too close to the curb), but they should not be bulging or show obvious signs of physical irregularities. Be sure to look inside of the tire as well as outside. Also check the tread for chunks of missing rubber. You may see areas where the tire has been repaired. That should show as a patch on the inside. If the old puncture isn’t more than a quarter-inch wide and isn’t within an inch of the sidewall, the tire is probably fine. You may even point to old repair spots as reasons to get a better price.
Are Used Tires Safe to Buy?
The bottom line is that used tires can save money. Smart shoppers will consider buying used before buying new — assuming due diligence is a part of the buying decision.
For help with your used tire purchase, call Other Guys Tires at (541) 317-4197 or stop by the store to talk.
We’re here to save you money.
More importantly, we want to help keep your family safe on the road.
Let’s close with a question: What’s the difference between a “macaron” and a “macaroon”? Chef Liya Swift says there is none: “What we’re really talking about are two different confections with different sources that have become linguistically linked over time.”
In a way, used tires are like that.
After all, the tires on your car RIGHT NOW… guess what… they are USED.