Buying Used Tires: What You Need to Know
You’re headed to work one morning and hear that unfortunate thump-thump-thump that means you have a flat tire…again. You’ve already plugged and patched your tire a handful of times and you’re not sure it could take another beating. Plus, you’re about to head out on your annual summer road trip and don’t want to risk getting stranded. So, do you buy a new tire or a used tire? It’s up to you, but buying used tires is a risky bet and here’s why.
The Risks of Used Tires
1) You don’t know the history of the tire. You don’t know where it has been or how it has been driven. “The tire could have been driven overloaded, underinflated, or to excessively high speed,” says Consumer Reports News. While these tires may look fine on the exterior, the inside could be damaged from any one of these activities and the tire could be unsafe, which leads us to our next point.
2) A tire’s exterior can be deceiving. Even if a tire doesn’t have many miles on it, or any miles at all, it could still be unsafe. Think of an aging tire like an old rubber band. That rubber band sits in the junk drawer for a few years until one day, you pull it out to hold your bag of chips closed. The rubber band looks fine until you stretch it; then, you see cracks in the rubber and it snaps. As a tire ages, cracks like these can begin to develop in the rubber, and they may not be visible to the naked eye. Infrequent use, exposure to heat, and poor storage and maintenance can all contribute to tire aging, says TireWise.
3) You may not be notified of a recall. A new tire is registered to the buyer so that the manufacturer can directly contact them in the event of a recall. When you buy an old tire, that link no longer exists. The tire may have already been subject to a recall or could be in the future. If so, you likely won’t be notified.
How to Buy Affordable Tires
If the price-tag on a new set of wheels makes your eyes bulge, don’t worry just yet –there are a handful of things you can do to slice that price.
First, do your research. Is it cheaper to buy the tire online? Does the manufacturer have any rebates going on? Do an online search for tire coupons, promotions, and rebates.
Then, shop around at the “big box” stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and SEARS, along with the tire chains like Discount Tire and Big O Tires. Many tire shops will price match, so don’t be afraid to share your research with the salesman. They could be willing to negotiate lower than their competitors.
While it might be tempting to skimp on your tires, a tire failure could end up being a costly event. If your tires fail and cause an accident for which you are at fault, your car insurance rate could increase. Your tires are arguably the most important part of your car – without them, you’re stuck! Research your options when buying tires, and then get more miles out of them by doing routine tire maintenance. This handout by TireWise for new tire purchases can help you keep track of important information regarding your tires and also help remind you to check your tire pressure each month.