It’s a question that’s posed to us many times a week, especially from those who are busy sliding their tires on the weekend. Whether you own a drift missile or not, the reason for buying used tires can vary from budget to availability.
It’s never something we would endorse, driving on used tires, but many times this seems to be a necessary evil. Buying used tires can definitely save you money and time, and if you know how to buy used tires it can be a worthwhile endeavor. Properly selected used tires can go a long way in keeping your wallet full and your vehicle on the road.
If you know how to buy used tires, this means you know how to look for certain tips and characteristics that make it worthwhile. Not knowing how to buy used tires can lead to disaster, and possibly a dangerous driving condition if you don’t know what you are doing.
Know your Tires
Easily one of the biggest things to learn when you want to know how to buy used tires, you’ve got to know what you are looking for. Because you are often looking to replace one or more of your tires to create a complete set, you need to know what size, width and manufacturer you are looking for.
If you do not know how to read your tires, or how to size them check our How To article here for reading Tires. You will need the type of tire and the tread rating, as well as the obvious rim size, width and tire profile.
And not to be painfully obvious and obtuse here, but make sure that your tires all match the right size, width and tire profile. Failure to match tires can create a dangerous driving condition or damage vital driveline components. You have been warned.
The first item to check when it comes to buying used tires is of course the tread wear, or what’s left of it. You can use a tread indicator to check how much life or tread in this instance, your prospective tires have left.
Not to state the obvious, but you definitely want more tread here than less when you are buying used tires. The more depth to the treads left on the tire, means you have more time to drive (or slide) on the tire before you must replace it.
The tire depth gauge uses a plunger style sender to measure how much tread is left on the tire. Make sure to repeat this process in different spots on the tire, because several different factors can play into how the tire wears, from inflation to alignment. Tire treads typically start at 10/32-12/32 inch, and you should not drive with any less than 4/32 inch.
Make sure to measure from different areas of the tire, so that you have a good idea on how these tires were treated before, and that the wear is even and uniform.
Know where the age of the tire is stamped, because all passenger vehicle tires have this stamp on their side. Knowing how old the tires are you are shopping for will help you pick out the right set and not get ripped off when it comes to used tires.
Tires older than 5 or 6 years should be discarded and not used. Tires exposed to harsh weather or the outside elements will enjoy a shorter life span as the rubber can become compromised over time.
Outside of the obvious size and measurements, you must also make sure that the materials of your tire match accordingly. There’s steel belted radials as well as conventional ply type tires that you can choose from. Radial tires can last longer and provide better performance, as well as increased fuel economy because of the radial tires’ rigid nature.
Like the tire measurements, you are best served when you match the tire types on all four corners. This will ensure maximum performance and even tire wear, as well as providing a smoother even keel ride that’s free of any irregularities.
After you’ve checked for tire tread and how much life the used tires you are looking at have left, you must then inspect the sidewall for any damage. Look for any pits or scarring or even bubbles that may occur from road hazards or abuse.
Never take a small sign of damage lightly, this can be a sign of a much more serious tire failure that can occur if you ignore the small warning signs at first.
Camber flipping and tread wear
If you are purchasing a tire set from someone, it’s a good idea to check the tires for any excessive camber flipping or unusual tire wear.
Feathered tires or tires with uneven tread can be a sign of misalignment or abuse. Make sure to try to avoid these kinds of used tires during your process of shopping for used tires.
Lastly, you aren’t going to want a previously repaired or patched tire unless your situation is dire. Check the tire for any patches and plugs as well as any markings that may indicate torn sidewall or lips. Remember that you want a tire that will balance and mount nicely to provide the most stable ride for your passengers and yourself.
Have any more tips on how to buy used tires? Leave them below and let us know!