Buying Safe, Used Tires Can Save You Over 80% On Tire Expenses

should I buy used tires

Should You Be Saving Money By Buying Used Tires?

There’s a bit of debate about adding used tires to your car in order to save some cash. With a little bit of knowledge, you can easily save a lot of money and still end up with a great set of tires for your car for a fraction of the cost. There are retailers who’s sole existence is to find used reliable tires. And then there are individuals selling used tires on Craig’s list. Regardless of the source, used tires are a great way to save some cash. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages inherent in doing so, and then we’ll give you a little bit of knowledge so you can come to your own conclusion.

The Good

I drive a sexy 1997 Mazda Protege. It has size 14 wheels. I buy my used tires at a location that’s creatively named Penn Tire. For (1) used tire, size 14, I will spend $28. If I were buying brand new, I could spend as much as $148. Considering my sexy car is nearly 20 years old, I’ll pass on spending more on tires than what the car is actually worth.

You’ll definitely be saving money by purchasing used tires, that’s a given. With careful selection, you might even end up with some that are almost as good as new ones. The price for used tires can be incredibly low depending on what size you need for your vehicle. If you shop around, you might even be able to replace all four tires on your vehicle for as little as $100.

It’s also an environmentally-friendly practice, used tires frequently end up in weird spots and they aren’t the most bio-degradable material. Reducing the amount of litter in the world is always a good thing, especially when it’s something as hardy as the modern tire. It may not directly benefit you, but it’s a great way to make sure that the material isn’t wasted and discarded.

The Bad

Tires are rather important for the safety of your vehicle, and the used tire industry is almost entirely without oversight. This can be a troublesome thought although there are a large number of reputable companies around which do inspect their tires. Be careful before you pick a company, a particularly low price might indicate that the people involved aren’t taking too close of a look at them before they start selling them.

Some people take the shadiness a bit further, and practices such as painting the tires black to hide damage aren’t completely unknown. Some will also sell tires that are past their “expiration date”, which is usually around six years. Add in the fact that tires can have internal damage that won’t show in the treads, and you might end up with something that looks great but causes a hazard for your vehicle.

The Verdict: Make a Knowledgeable Purchase

We strongly recommend against buying used tires online, without being able to do a visual inspection of the tire in question you can end up with a lot of issues. It’s better to find someone in your area selling them, and in most areas you’ll have a variety of merchants to choose from.

Insist on being able to inspect the tire when you go to make the purchase, this is rather important because a great looking tire can still have some massive flaws that can cause early failure and might put you in an unsafe position. The following should give you some idea of what you need to be looking for:

  • Tread: The tread will let you know how long your tire is going to last. Most people know at least enough to make sure the depth is still reasonable, but it’s definitely not the only thing to make your purchase decision on.
  • Sidewall Damage: Check the sidewall thoroughly, this damage can’t be fixed and can lead to blowouts. Even slight damage in this area is unacceptable, and don’t let the merchant convince you otherwise. Their purpose is to get you to make a purchase after all.
  • Age: Most tire manufacturers recommend not using a tire over six years old, regardless of the condition. Rubber degrades over time and becomes brittle, which can lead to early failure of the tire.
  • Rubber Condition: Rubber can degrade faster under certain conditions, make sure the rubber doesn’t feel brittle and some color is in it. Keep in mind that a lot of merchants, even reputable ones, will use tire-black to make sure it has an acceptable appearance.
  • Interior: Check for bulges in the interior of the tire. These bulges mean that the layers are separating and the tire is unsuitable.
  • Check the Weight: Make sure the weight rating of the tire is good enough for what you’ll be doing. More than one person has purchased a tire for their truck that came from a sedan originally and find themselves with a broken tire after putting a full load on their vehicle.

As long as you keep these factors in mind, you should be able to make a decently informed purchase.


Used tires can be a fantastic way to cut down on the costs associated with your vehicle, and as long as you’re careful shouldn’t pose any additional risk. Shop around, and if you feel a shop is sketchy, don’t purchase from them. Arm yourself with knowledge, don’t let yourself be sold on a questionable tire, and you’ll be back on the road in no time.