Are you wondering how to buy used tires safely? Used tires can fill a great need when you just need to replace your tires but don’t want the high cost of brand new tires. You can safely buy used tires to save money, but we really want to focus on that keyword…”safely.”
As we are encouraging and helping you find ways to save big money and find those savings in our budgets whenever we can, we want to share this tip with you, but also share all of the things to look for. Used tires will yield a significant savings, but only if it is a good value in terms of price, quality and age.
How to Buy Used Tires Safely
Buying used tires could work out, but there are definite cautions to consider and steps to take.
- Give the tires a very thorough inspection – watch for cracking on the sidewalls or tread, indications of dry rot, separation, any patches from previous repairs, and any other physical warnings or red flags.
- Ask a lot of questions like:
- Why are the tires being sold?
- How many miles was the car driven with these tires?
- What was the purchase price of the tires,?
- How old are they (we will show you a way to verify this)?
- Where were the tires purchased?
- Were all tires in question purchased at the same time and used equally?
- Check the tread – The next thing to check is the tread. You can check this for a penny! Stick a penny in the tread with the Lincoln Head down, if you see the head, the tread is too low and that used tire purchase would not be a good one.
- Check the age of the tire – There is an easy trick to discovering the age of a used tire. If you want to know the age of used tires, look for the four-digit number on the tire. The first two digits indicate the week of manufacturing and the second two indicate the year of manufacturing. If you see a number like 2617 – it means it was made the 26th week of 2017.
- Don’t buy tires older than 5 years, regardless. They just are not considered as safe, at least for long.
- You can also check reviews of the brand of tires online to ensure that they are a good quality in the first place.
- You also really need to replace tires in sets of 2 or 4. It’s not great for alignment and tread wear to replace 1 or 3.
We want to go into more depth on the tread, tread quality and tread depth. New tires will have 10/32 inch of tread on a new tire. You don’t want to buy a tire with less than 2/32. But to know how much tread a tire has, you can use the penny test. If you stick a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head facing down and you can see pretty much all of his head, your tires are at 2/32. These are not safe to drive and it is the point at which they need to be replaced.
Here’s how the tread wears to understand what to look for. There is a Uniform Tire Quality Grading, commonly abbreviated as UTQG, and this refers to the standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for tires and the tread to help you as a consumer understand the quality of the tire and even how much life a tire may have after tires reach a certain tread depth.
One of the grades given according to these standards is a treadware rating, which can be found on the sidewall of the tire (e.g., it would state “TREADWARE 300″). This number helps you understand how fast that tire’s tread will wear over a certain number of miles. If you have a treadwear rating of 400, the tires will wear at about 1/32″ every 8-1ok miles. If the treadwear rating is 200, it will wear twice as fast at around 4-5k miles per 1/32”. So paying attention to this rating will help you understand how many miles the tires may have left.
Something else you should be careful of is that many sellers will indicate that tires with a tread of 5/32″ are at half their life. This is actually a bit deceiving as most new tires have a tread depth of 10/32″ and you shouldn’t drive with tires less than 2/32″ depth. The “half life” of a tire would really be 6/32″ (you only have 8/32″ usable life for a tire). Remember, each 1/32″ of tread means a few thousand miles so these measurements can really save you or cost you a lot of money.
So let’s discuss some ideas on how to determine the prices and assist you in negotiating for that next set of used tires.
How much should you expect to pay for used tires?
Many say that you can save at least 50% of the retail price. We would aim for 50% less of a price on tires that meet all of the standards above PLUS 6/32″ or higher. Remember, 5/32″ can be referred to as “half of the driving time left” but not really “half” if you read the notes above.
For the actual price, you really need to research online the price of the same type and brand of tire to know what the right ballpark is for the exact tires you are looking for, but most of the time if you can get them for $30-$40 each, it’s likely a decent deal. This is just a ballpark, generalization – so you really need to do your research on tread, quality and brands to determine if your deal is a great deal!