Looking for Discounted Used Tires? They Aren't Worth the Risk!
By Rachel Morey
In most states, there are no rules about selling tires that were previously installed in a different car. While you'll get a hefty discount when you buy used tires, experts raise valid concerns about safety when it comes to driving a car outfitted with discounted used tires.
4 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Buy Discounted Used Tires
Our top reason why discounted used tires aren't worth your money is that there are no regulations on selling these tires in the US. Selling used tires provides a valuable source of profit for many tire shops. New tires must meet strict federal safety rules, but there's no oversight in the used tire market. The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) advocates for laws that would prohibit installing used tires under certain conditions that would make driving the vehicle dangerous. Colorado and New Jersey are the only states that have adopted USTMA-recommended pro-safety legislation.
Worn tires pose a risk to drivers, passengers, and fellow motorists on the road. Tires with low tread depth and other issues that come with age and excessive wear are three times more likely to fail and be involved in a crash than tires in good condition, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Secondly, you're prevented from seeing any internal damage. Tires previously mounted on a car with suspension or alignment issues may be worn unevenly or damaged. It's impossible to detect serious internal damage by visually inspecting the outside of a tire. You need to look at the tire's inner liner after removing it from the wheel. Even then, only someone with a lot of experience repairing and servicing tires could determine if the tire is safe.
Thirdly, avoid buying discounted used tires just because new tires are registered to their original owner. When you buy used tires, you won't know if the manufacturer issues a recall due to safety concerns.
"Perhaps one of the best reasons to purchase new is that tires are registered to the buyer when they are purchased. In the event that tires are recalled due to manufacturing or material fault, the manufacturer is responsible for contacting the user to notify them of the issue. Once tires reach the second-hand market, the manufacturer is no longer able to contact the buyer to notify them of any issues or recall notices," said Liam Ridings, Product Specialist, Sparesbox.
Lastly, it's pretty impossible to know the history of a used tire. TIres can suffer damage from potholes, scraping against curbs, or even from lack of use.
Susanna Williams, a consultant for Superior Honda, New Orleans, said there is no way for customers to tell if the tire has been driven while being overloaded or even for extended periods of time at excessive speeds or when underinflated. "Any of these can greatly affect the tire and cause failure for you on the road," she said.
According to the USTMA, tires that meet the following conditions should be immediately and permanently disposed of:
Treadwear indicators showing anywhere on the tire
Localized spot wear
Bulges, snags, cracks, or cuts in the tread or groove
Worn to 1.6mm or 2/32" anywhere on the face of the tread
Alternatives to Buying Discounted Used Tires
Check for recalls and look closely at the warranty for your current tires, as those are easily replaceable. You could also buy tires online at wholesale prices and have your regular mechanic balance and mount them.
"Call different dealers ahead of time to get price quotes on new tires," Williams recommended. "By doing this you’ll be able to determine which dealers are being honest with you and which are simply trying to make you buy new tires for a much higher price. Consider buying from an online tire store to get the best price, even with shipping charges. Many times online stores will ship them to the mechanic of your choice."
You can get new tires for a discounted price from reputable tire retailers online. It's also a good idea to check prices at big box stores like Sam's Club and Costco. Members can often save money on new tires in addition to perks like road-hazard warranties, free mounting and balancing.
According to Consumer Reports, some of the best deals on new tires are at Amazon.com, Tirerack.com, Tirebuyer.com, Belle Tire Distributors, Fountain Tire, and Lee Schwab Tire Centers.
Buying new tires represents a considerable investment. The tires you put on your vehicle are important to your safety, so it's crucial to spend time researching your options to make the best choice for your budget and your peace of mind. That's why it's best to stay away from discounted used tires.
For more safe driving tips and tricks visit DriversEd.com.