Tires last a long time, so we don’t often think about budgeting for a new set. They are also expensive. Used cars can save a lot of money, so what about used tires? There is a large market for pre-owned tires. While they’re appealing if you’re on a budget, are you better off going used than buying new tires that haven’t been driven on?

New tires often go for at least $200 apiece, depending on the brand. Used tires, however, may cost half the sticker price of new ones. They are cheaper and environmentally friendly. Millions of old tires are thrown into landfills every year, contributing to pollution. Tens of millions more are sold and re-used.

Can Used Tires Be Driven On?

Manufacturers often discourage doing so because they can profit from new tire sales. But just because a tire is used, doesn’t mean it’s not in good condition. Every tire is different. If it’s not damaged, it’s likely still usable. 

Another thing to check for is tread depth, which should be above 3/32”. You can look at the tread wear indicator on the tire. If it’s flush with the level of the tread, don’t use the tire. Or, use a penny with Abraham Lincoln’s head upside down. Insert the penny in the tread, and if the top of his head is showing, the tread is too worn.

Why Used Tires Can Be OK

It’s not hard to find good old tires. Drivers often buy new ones before their current tires wear out. Repair shops often recommend changing tires prematurely as reselling them adds to their profits. Tires removed from cars totaled in accidents aren’t resold if badly damaged. A car totaled in a flood may also have its tires removed, but water rarely damages tires.

Here are some considerations for selecting a used tire:

  • Age: There’s a four-digit code on the sidewall; for example, if it reads 3820, the tire was manufactured during the 38th week of 2020. Manufacturers recommend not using tires after six years with frequent usage; the U.S. Department of Transportation says a well-maintained tire can be used for up to 10 years.
  • Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) Standards: This rating is given as a “Treadwear” number. The smaller it is, the faster the tire will wear. A tire that’s under UTQG 100 tends to wear out fast, but a UTQG 450-600 tire can last a long time. However, there’s often a tradeoff with performance. 
  • Tire Condition: In addition to the treads, check for uneven wear, which can expose inner layers. Eventually, the tire could collapse. If the beads and sidewalls are cut or cracked, discard the tire. Signs of internal damage include bumps on the sidewalls or bead chunking that prevents the tire from sealing.

Legal Considerations

In 2019, California passed a law that regulates the installation of unsafe used tires. The legislation doesn’t ban used tires. However, it identifies specific characteristics known to make tires unsafe, providing auto dealers with guidelines for inspecting them before installation.

Where Should I Buy Used Tires From?

Quality used tires can often be found at local tire dealers. You’re more likely to find discounts with larger dealer chains; brick-and-mortar shops tend to have higher prices as they incur more expenses. Big-box retailers sell and sometimes install old tires. You can also go with online services; just be cautious of who you’re buying from and what you’re getting. Specialized online shops that are reputable come with fewer risks.

Shop at Hawthorne Auto Square

If you’re in the market for used tires, why not go all out with a high-quality, low-mileage used car? Our inventory consists of leading-brand vehicles that have been carefully inspected. Service and maintenance are covered under our comprehensive 6-month warranty. We also offer stress-free financing to make your purchase more affordable. Visit us in Hawthorne or call 866-707-7664 to learn more.