Should You Buy Used Tyres

Posted by: Dan on 21/10/2015

Category: General

Buying used tyres is a big debate amongst motorists. Whether you're a college student who’s a bit short of cash, or a young family seeking to get the greatest value out of running two cars at home - or even a small business owner considering how to minimise annual expenses across your vehicles - buying used tyres is always an interesting proposition. But is it safe?

The following information will give you a primer on the issues, considerations and essential factors you need consider when deciding whether to buy used tyres for your auto.

Evaluate Your Needs

To start, consider your needs as a driver, and the sort of driving you’ll be asking from you car. Anyone who regularly watches car racing will tell you that racers aren’t just perpetually visiting their garages for a pitstop and tyre change for fun.

Accordingly, if you’re anticipating heavy duty or regular driving at high speeds - such as along freeways and rural roads - then the demands on your tyres will be far greater than those of a college student who just uses their car for a 10-minute commute across the suburbs to campus. If you anticipate considerable regular wear and tear upon your tyres once fitted to your car, buying new is almost always best for peace of mind.

For those who have more routine needs for their car and its daily driving, used tyres can offer the chance to buy tyres at a more economical rate than buying new; and it can be done safely with a few checks along the way. This begins with deciding where you’ll look to purchase used tyres.

Seeking a Reputable Tyre Dealer

It is an unfortunate reality that unscrupulous tyre dealers exist; and considering the wide variety of safety standards around the world, where you buy your tyres can have a crucial impact on their quality.

The first consideration here is the old adage ‘if it's too good to be true, it probably is’. If you find yourself in a dealership that’s offering to sell you a set of tyres at a simply astounding below market-value rate - it’s time to walk away. While you can indeed shop and find a bargain, ensure you do so with a reputable dealer and that the tyres are of a reputable brand.

Once you’ve found a good place to seek out your tyres, you need then consider the quality of the product itself. First, begin by looking at the tread. If the tread is in good condition, it’s a sign the tyres have been in little use and remain largely in good tact.

However, you’ll need to inspect all four tyres equally. This is because braking suddenly or at an extreme speed can cause a ‘flat spot’ on a tyre, wearing off a different amount of grip in one particular spot over the rest of the tyre. Some buyers may not be troubled by this, but if that flat spot is in contact with the ground when you need to suddenly brake, you won’t be able to come to a stop as fast.

Watch Out for Delamination

Next, look for any signs of delamination. This is exactly what it sounds like. While every driver knows that a tyre is separate from the wheel base until screwed in, fewer know that a tyre’s wheel is separate from its tread lining.

Accordingly, while it’s a relatively rare occurrence compared to tyre’s merely wearing their tread, whole sections of the tyre tread can lift off if poorly made. If you’re buying from a reputable dealer, this is a problem you’re unlikely to encounter. But it's true that buying used tyres by definition means someone else once owned them - and as you don’t know how they used them, it’s essential that you make this precautionary check.

If the tyre tread shows anything but a firm, linear and continuous ‘wrap’ around the wheelbase - almost like peeling off like an apple skin from its core - don’t buy those tyres under any circumstances.

Identifying Tyre Damage

After you’ve checked for delamination, look to the underside of the tyre for signs of any obvious damage. While a severe cut or a scratch to the surface will likely be readily visible, it’s also important to keep an eye out for bumps, bubbles or any apparent perforation of the tyre surface from within.

It’s also important to look for any signs of dry rot within the tyre. While the tread may be fine, it may be firmly joined with the wheelbase, and the interior of the tyre may appear to be in good working order, if tyres show any signs of cracking, they’re likely aged. This doesn’t make them automatically bad, but it does increase the chance considerably of trouble arising far sooner with them down the road.

Even if they appear in good working order, old tyres are still best avoided. If you must buy used, seek to keep any potential purchase of used tyres to ones made in the last two years.

Have Your Used Tyres Installed

Finally, even if you’ve found a good set of tyres, it’s important to see them both on and off the car. Standalone and installed. In absence of the car being elevated above your head, you’ll struggle to check all sides of the tyre. Once installed, you’ll want to do the same checks as you did when they were standalone, using a jack and reaching around with your hands to feel any nicks or bubbles. Once you’ve completed this step - and assuming you haven’t noticed any issues - you can go ahead and purchase a good set of tyres at an extra affordable price.

In sum, buying used tyres is something you can indeed so safely - but you need do so wisely. If you have the choice between buying a new set and doing so with the requisite peace of mind, or buying a used set that you feel will worry you in the back of your mind - buy the new set (or buy the used set and keep them as spares). While going 1,000kms on a used tyre or set of tyres may worry you, if you’ve popped a new tyre out on the road, having a used one you can quickly put on to make the 20-minute trip to the mechanic can prove supremely useful.

Agree or disagree with this? If you’ve got an opinion on evaluating and purchasing used tyres, we’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below with your thoughts:

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