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August 25, 2010

Buying Used Tires Can Be Risky

Worn_tire With the sluggish economy, more people are considering buying used tires instead of brand new ones. While it might seem like a good way to save money, used tires with an unknown history can potentially be risky. Once tires are applied to a vehicle and put into service, they are considered used. The used tires – either purchased as replacement tires or equipped on a used vehicle – might have been improperly serviced or maintained at some point.

Not all tire damage is easily detectable. A qualified tire service professional should inspect the internal and external condition of a used tire. If a used vehicle is purchased and the history of the tires is unknown, tires should be inspected – including demounting for internal inspection.

Used tires should NOT be bought, sold or installed if they have any of the following:

·         Any punctures or other penetrations, whether repaired or not.

·         Any inner liner or bead damage.

·         Any damage or wear that exposes the body material of the tire (cuts, cracks, bulges,  scrapes, impact damage, punctures, splits or snags).

·         A date code that is older than 10 years. The date code (the last three or four digits of the DOT identification number) indicates the week and year the tire was manufactured.

·         A defaced or removed DOT tire identification number, located on the tire sidewall.

·         A history of a continuous inflation pressure loss that requires frequent re-inflation.

·         Damage from chemicals, fire, excessive heat or other environmental damage.

·         Inadequate tread depth. Tires with a tread depth of 2/32nds or less at any point on the tire are worn out.

·         Indication of internal separation, like bulges or local areas of irregular tread wear.

·         Indication of under-inflated or overloaded damage that includes inner liner abrasion, mid- to upper-sidewall abrasion and stamping deterioration, delamination, discoloration or excessive tread shoulder wear.

·         Prior use of tire sealant or balance/filler material.

Additionally, used tires should NOT be bought, sold or installed if they were:

·         Altered to look like new tires.

·         Designated as a scrap tire or otherwise not intended for continued highway service.

·         Involved in a recall or a replacement program.

·         Labeled on the sidewall as “Not For Highway Use,” “NHS,” “For Racing Purposes Only,” “Agricultural Use Only,” “SL” (service limited agricultural tire), or any other indication that the tire is barred from use on public thoroughfares.

·         Originally or currently mounted on a rim that is bent, dented, cracked or damaged.

·         Stored improperly.

Keep in mind that internal damage to a used tire is not necessarily visible to the naked eye. It’s up to you to determine if your budget will only allow for used tires, but do keep in mind the risks associated with them when making your decision. Because of these risks, not all tire dealers will sell used tires.

Denise90x120 Denise Koeth
Managing Editor- Tire Review Magazine

Denise Koeth of Babcox Publications serves as managing editor for the company's Tire Review magazine. She also serves as an assistant editor on Tire Review’s sister publication, Fleet Equipment magazine.

A veteran reporter, Koeth started her career at the Barberton (Ohio) Herald and most recently worked for the Medina County Gazette. She graduated with honors from The University of Akron, earning a bachelors degree in mass media communications.

Visit her online at

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