Let’s face it – new tires can be really expensive, and are often necessary at inconvenient times (stuck with a flat and not getting paid for a couple of weeks?) It may also seem eco-friendly to go the route of re-using a seemingly decent tire rather than throwing it away. But is it really advisable, or even safe, to buy used tires?
The short answer is: no!
Womp womp – sorry, folks. Here are some of the reasons it’s not a good idea:
Tires break down as they age.
Rubber is a natural compound, and as such, it will degrade over time. This is often referred to as “dry rot” – small cracks visible on the outside rubber that usually starts around 5 years post-production. It is possible, though, for the dry rotting process to have started and it’s not obvious yet. The rubber can also break down on the inside of the tire and you’d never be able to see it. Even tires less than 5 years old can prematurely age if they are kept outside (exposed to the elements and seasonal temperature shifts) or if they’ve had chemicals like “tire shine” on them. (You can always check the DOT code on the tire’s sidewall to find out its age; the last 4 digits are the week and year of production – see photo at right.)
You don’t know how they’ve been used, or where they have been.
It’s quite possible that they have internal damage that is not visible from the outside. What can cause internal damage? If they are under or over inflated, overloaded (possibly on the wrong kind of vehicle or supporting too much weight), or driven to excessively high speeds, there could be injury to the internal structure of the tire.
You have no way of being notified in the event of a recall.
When someone buys new tires and registers them with the manufacturer, they will be notified directly - and compensated - if the tire gets recalled for defects or other reasons. When you buy used tires, you’re left out of this notification process (since there’s no way for the manufacturer to find you), and you could be driving on defective tires without knowing it. Not to mention, you definitely won’t be up for a free replacement.
What about tires on a used vehicle?
Are those used tires considered acceptable? To some extent, yes, those tires may be ok. The main difference is that you know something about the tire’s history – mostly by knowing the vehicle’s history (they don’t recommend a Carfax for nothing). Many vehicles also come with maintenance records, which hopefully include things like tire rotations, balances, air pressure checks, and inspections. Plus, if the tires aren’t in good condition, it can be a great bargaining tool to either reduce to price of the vehicle, or get a set of new tires included in the purchase.
Used tires may seem like the best option when you’re trying to be frugal, but ultimately, your safety when driving is always paramount. Don’t gamble with potentially unsafe driving conditions just because you need to pinch pennies. At Wiygul Automotive Clinic, we provide competitive pricing and keep you safe on the road. Stop by any of our 7 locations and our expert techs will be happy to inspect, repair, or replace your tires anytime!