• Karolena Serratos

Used Tires Are Just Not Worth It


Tires can be expensive and in some cases irregular tire wear can at times seem to appear from nowhere. Many people try to offset the cost of tires by purchasing a set of used tires. The Rubber Manufacturers Association estimates somewhere around 30 million used tires are sold to motorist each year. To give you an idea of how much of the market, the new tire market sales are 318 million tires, so roughly 10 percent.

The Used Tire Process

Generally unknown to the pubic, automotive repair facilities, for example like Professional Auto Care, must pay for someone to come and pick up the used ‘scrap’ tires. These companies collect a fee from the repair facility and then have inspectors, who are called graders, visually eyeball the condition of the tire for resale. These graders shuffle through the tires to find the most popular sizes and measure to see if they still have more than the legal tread depth requirement. In some cases they are cleaned and even painted black to appear newer.

So if they were just on a car, why can’t I put them on mine?

One of the biggest factors when it comes to tires is age. Most vehicle manufactures recommend not using tires that are more than six years of age. Although the Rubber Manufactures Association cannot be certain at what point in time the tires begin to break down and say it could be sooner depending on use, maintenance and storage.

Despite the fact a tire could appear to be new on the outside, over time oxidation occurs to the internal parts of the tires and causes the tire to degrade from the inside out. This is what can cause tread/belt separation. The way a tire has been stored can cause rapid deterioration. A common analogy used to convey the difference between a new and an old tire is to think about a new rubber band—very elastic. Now think about when you find an old rubber band, when you attempt to stretch it you could begin to see cracks or even break it.

How can I determine the age of a tire?

Stamped on each tire is the U.S. DOT tire identification number, which signifies the tire meets all federal standards. The identification number begins with the letters ‘DOT’ followed by two numbers or letters which represent the plant code where the tire was manufactured as well as the last four numbers which represent the week and year of production. Example: 0513 would mean the fifth week of 2013.

Although partly worn tires may be cheaper, there is simply no substantial system in place to regulate this portion of the tire industry.

For the Record

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) its most recent statics, attributing 252 incidents, 300 injuries and 23 deaths to sudden failure of old tires. Like the NHTSA says, Tire Safety, everything rides on it, so think twice before buying those used tires.