Used Tires and Driving Safety-An Oxymoron?

Are the risks in buying used tires worth it?

Most people will choose new  over old  especially when it comes to tires. Things however are not always that simple and sometimes economic factors dictate that used tires most be purchased. Information can be found online at site  such as  How Stuff Works which gives the pros and cons to each side of the tire purchase question. Government resources can also be a wealth of unbiased information because in most cases they are looking at for the public’s best interest or should be. As with any site common sense is recommended and a healthy skepticism will serve you well. Sometimes local sites like this one offer good advice because their business is local and they have more at stake in providing accurate information.

Here are a few things we have learned about purchasing used tires. While some vehicle owners will run their tires to within a inch of their useful life others for whatever reason will replace used with new long before they are actually needed. There are a lot of used tires available for this reason and others. It is not hard to find used tires but finding quality tires that you feel comfortable putting on your vehicle can be a whole other story.  A couple of very important items to be aware of when buying used is uneven wear and tread depth. Used tires must adhere to the same rules as new tires which means minimum of 2/32″ tread depth. The key word in the last sentence is MINIMUM. You want to find used tires with as much tread depth as possible. Most everybody has heard about the standard penny test to determine if a tire has enough tread life left but not many have heard you can do the same thing with a quarter.

Using a quarter to measure tire depth

Using a quarter to determine tread depth safety in a used tire as well as to determine when to replace existing tires. For those who do not understand the importance of tread depth here are a couple of things to keep in mind. Not having enough tread depth increases the risk of hydroplaning because water is unable to escape as quickly with worn tires as those that have adequate tread depth. If you spend much time driving in snowy conditions tread depth that even be more of a important safety factor. Driving over snow compacts it and tread depth is vital in allowing the snow to escape so as to allow tires to maintain a firm contact with the road. Each 1/32″ increase in tread depth adds safety and stability to your ride. Using the quarter test as a gauge of tire quality if when you place Washington’s head into the tire ridge and the top of the head is covered you have about 4/32″ of tread. Watch the video below if you have any questions about this. If you need more reasons to realize the importance of good tread depth keep this in mind. The risk of sudden tire failure while driving down the road is more pronounced with worn tires than new. With revised speed limits approaching 80 MPH in some counties is it really worth the risk driving on worn tires? Flats are also likely to be more common with tires that have reduced tread.

Winter driving season is no time to find yourself with inferior tires. Winter conditions including freezing rain, ice and snow can be a hard task master and some of the conditions you want to encounter being fully confident in the condition of your tires. Snow tires are some of the most expensive tires you can purchase and some will be forced to purchase used if they are going to be able to afford them at all. The same factors that go into purchasing regular used tires such as tread depth and uneven or balding tires need to be taken into account when it comes to the purchase of snow tires. There is one other additional factor that needs to be considered. Snow tires are usually removed at the end of the winter driving season and stored away until next year. If not stored properly this can affect the condition and therefore the ability to perform as needed. give careful attention to the appearance of winter tires before purchase paying special to the sidewalls. In the end in most cases a used snow tire is better than no snow tire at all just be aware of what you are buying.

Buying Used Tires Where Is The Best Place

With the advent of the Internet the tire buying experience has been turned upside down. Local shopping for tires is not a consumers only option in this day and age. Not only can you buy your next set of tires online you can also research prices, get customer reviews, compare different tire brands and find special deals. Your next set of purchased tires can be delivered to you or they can be routed to a local tire shop of your choice where they will be put on your vehicle at your leisure. One drawback to online shopping is the inability to actually physically see what you are purchasing. This is where reviews come into play. It is much more difficult these days for a company to hide behind a poorly performing product or shoddy workmanship. It is also getting more difficult to create a fake review so if a customer takes the time and effort to write a review either good or bad where no incentive is given to do so this can be a valuable source of information. However don’t forget your local tire dealer. He or she can be a valuable asset to you in whatever service they perform. Developing a close relationship with them means they have your best interests at heart while they still make a profit on the product or service they offer you. In addition when you buy local you are supporting your local community. Many of these small business owners throw their heart and soul into that same community because they also call it home. Yes they might not be able to match the national companies “deal” but the few dollars you save by purchasing out of community may turn out to be a short sighted gain. Beside local or national there is a third option when it comes to buying used tires and that is a person who lives near you. Many times a great deal can be had just be sure to follow the same guidelines when buying this way. Also keep in mind that the recourses available to you if you are not happy with your purchase or something goes wrong is limited.

Bald Tires-A Bad Idea


Beside being a extremely bad idea the few dollars you save by getting a few more miles out of your already worn tires can cost you big time with a high dollar ticket if you get pulled over and cited for such an infraction. Granted your chances of getting wrote up for this kind of offense is small but it is still out there. And really this should not be your first concern with the issue of bald tires. The traction between your vehicle’s tires and the road is seriously compromised when you run with little or no tread especially when adverse driving conditions such as rain, ice or snow are present. Your ability to stop as well as other factors such as steering are adversely affected with minimal tire tread. Summertime and hot temperatures bring a heightened risk for blowouts as the pavement heats up and your tires are unable to cope. Bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with wanting to save money and if buying good quality used tires is one way to do that fine. But trying to get a few extra miles out of already worn tires puts you, your family and other motorists at risk and is simply not a smart move.

So what’s the final verdict when it comes to used tires?

A lot of information has been given in the preceding paragraphs that will allow you to weigh the pros and cons of your next tire purchase be it new or used. New is better and if at all possible should be planned for as a part of regular maintenance that goes with driving. Having said that paying hundreds of dollars for new just isn’t in the cards and used tires must be purchased. If you know what to look for and the things to avoid you can get quality tires that already have some miles on them. Just remember to inspect them frequently, drive thoughtfully and use common sense and you should be able to get down the road without major problems.