What to Look for When Buying Used Tires?

What to Look for When Buying Used Tires?
 
 
 
 

Car tires are some of the most important components in any vehicle, small or big. The condition, type of tread, and thickness of the tires determine the stopping distance of your car, how the suspension responds to corners and bends, and the swiftness of your steering wheel. But here’s the thing. Car tires can be quite expensive, especially if you want good quality ones. That’s why most people opt for used tires. The problem is how to determine a good used tire. To help you out, we’ve prepared a post with tips on what to look for when buying used car tires.

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Age of the Tire

The first thing that you’ll notice is the age of the tire. But to truly determine the age of the tire, look for the tire identification number preceded by the letters “DOT” on the sidewall. If the numbers have been scrubbed off, that’s a red flag, and you should avoid those tires entirely. To the right of DOT, you’ll see a four-digit number. The first two numbers indicate the week the tire was manufactured – so the number ranges from 01 – 52 to denote the number of weeks in a year. The last two numbers indicate the year of manufacture. For example, the number 1420 means the tire was manufactured in the 14th week of 2020. Generally, it’s advisable to avoid tires that are six years old since the oil in the rubber will start to dry out over time, which could lead to the tire cracking or rotting. That's why you should pay close attention to small cracks appearing at flex points on the sidewall or in between the tread blocks, a clear indication of rot. Keep in mind that some people are also known to paint old tires to make them look newer.

Tread Depth

The penny test is the most common test for checking the tread depth of tires. Tread depth is the measurement, in inches, from the top of a tread to the bottom of its deepest valley. A new tire typically has a tire depth of 10/32 to 11/32 on an inch. A good used tire should have a depth of at least 5/32 or 6/32. To measure the tread depth, insert a penny, upside down, into one or more of the tire’s grooves. If the entire Lincoln’s head is visible, the tire is basically bald and unsafe.

Sidewall Condition

Look for even wear on used tires, making sure that there are no smooth or burgeoning surfaces. The sidewalls should have no cracks, cuts, or chips. If you notice wear rings in sidewalls, it means the tire was driven when flat. When the tire starts to lose air, the sidewalls begin to collapse. If the tire is driven in this condition for a long time, the sidewalls fold over and begin to rub against themselves. This process eventually scrubs the rubber liner off the inside of sidewalls, causing liner damage. So, if the tire is softer to the touch on some parts or you find small particles of rubber inside or the sidewall is worn out to the extent you can see the inner structure, walk away since the tire is unsafe.

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Check for Repairs

Tires get repaired for punctures every now and then. So, apart from looking for punctures, look at how the repairs were done. A proper repair involves a full patch on the inside of the tire. Some tires are repaired using a plug, which is a piece of rubber that is inserted into a tire to repair a hole. While plugs are not inherently unsafe, a tire patch is much safer. You’d also be wise to avoid tires with many repairs or large punctures, or repaired punctures within an inch of either sidewall.

Look for Irregularities

Be sure to closely examine the tread surface and sidewall for bumps, waviness, and other irregularities that may indicate the likelihood of an impact that caused the rubber to delaminate from the steel belts. Run your hands over the tread surface and sidewall to feel for any changes. Note that the irregularities might not be too obvious if the tire is not inflated.

Exposed Wires

If the tread surface shows any signs of exposed cords, no matter how thin the steel wire is, don’t buy the tire. Such tires are too dangerous to be used on the road since there’s a high risk of causing an accident.

How Much Do Used Tires Cost?

Generally, a used car tire costs anywhere between 30 percent to 50 percent of the original price. The price might also vary depending several factors, like the quality and the brand - some brands are known to fetch higher prices than others. When buying used tires, not only will you be saving money, but also helping to reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfills.

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