Buying Used Tires: Is it a good idea?

The fact is, when armed with the right information, not only is it safe to buy used tires, but you can save a lot of money in the process.

What should I look for when buying used tires?

  • Dry Rotting
  • Missing Chunks
  • Broken Tire Belts
  • Puncture Holes
  • Camber Wear

Common Sizes

When choosing to purchase used tires, you need to take into consideration that some sizes are more common than others.

The first thing that most truck owners do after purchasing a new rig is upgrade their tires and rims.

In order to recuperate as much as they can, they will generally sell their factory tires and rims for a much cheaper price than you would pay for a new set of tires. In most of these cases, the tires have rarely been used at all.

If you own a truck and looking for used wheels and tires, this may be the easiest solution for you. However, some vehicle like a Honda Corolla may have a tougher time finding factory replacement wheels and tires used.

Manufacturing Date

Before making any final decision, one of the first things that you should do is determine what the manufacturing date of the tire is.

You do not want to purchase a set of used tires that are too old. As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid any tire that is more than six years old.

In order to determine the manufacturing date of any tire, all you need to do is look for the DOT marking on the sidewall.

There will be a four-digit number immediately following the letters DOT, with the first two digits representing the week of the year, and the last two digits representing the year itself.

Dry Rotting

Once you have determined that the tires you are looking at our less than six years old, it’s time to determine whether or not the rubber is suffering from dry rot.

Although this may not be as big of an issue for places that receive regular levels of rain, for those who live closer to the desert, dry rot can be a serious issue.

It is okay if there is some rotting on the treads, what’s important is that there are no cracks in between those treads. Even the smallest amount of dry rot can quickly get out of hand.

Missing Chunks

So, you found a good set of tires that are not too old, and have little to no dry rotting. Next, you need to check the treads and lugs for any missing chunks.

If a vehicle has been taken off-road, then there is a possibility that there could be chunks of tread and lugs missing.

Although not a normal issue for street tires, when choosing tires that have a lot more meat, you’ll find a lot more damage as a result of regular use.

It is okay if the chunks are fairly small, but it’s important to make sure that you do not accept anything that has large chunks, or any form of damage that may reach the belt.

Broken Belts

Speaking of belts, these are an important part of the tire’s structural integrity. A broken belt can result in the quick degradation of any tire.

You will want to pay close attention to the sidewall of any tire to determine if there is any damage. Look for bulging, peculiar waves, or other malformation in the sidewall.

Any one of these can be the result of a damaged or broken belt. If there is any doubt, then do not purchase the tires, it is not safe to purchase any used tires where the integrity of the belt is in question.

Puncture Holes

It is not uncommon to run over sharp objects with your vehicle. As a result, tires get small punctures on a regular basis.

While small punctures are fine, you should stay away from anything that has large holes in it. It’s easy to patch the hole created by a nail or a small screw, but it’s virtually impossible to patch holes that are caused by large bolts.

You should check every tire for potential holes as well as previous repairs. When in doubt, it is best to avoid purchasing the tire altogether.

Bad Camber Wear

When it comes to off-road vehicles, most vehicles have a solid front axle, and as a result, will not suffer from camber wear.

However, any vehicle that has an independent suspension, that suspension can cause uneven wear on the tires. This is generally the result of an improperly set up front suspension. Tires that have bad camber wear, will generally feature less tread on one side of the tire than on the other.

Buying In Sets

To make your job even more difficult, it’s important to also try your best to find used tires that are sold in sets. For the most part, the previous owner is selling those tires for a reason. Chances are, at least one of the four tires had enough of an issue, that the owner decided to replace all of them at the same time. Because of this, it will be very difficult to find a full set of four tires. Instead, you should focus on finding pairs. You want pairs so that you can mount them on the same axle. Never mount mismatched tires on the same axle as it can damage the gears in your differential case.


Your tires play an important role in the safe operation of your vehicle. And, although they are a necessary part of the safe operation of any vehicle, they can be quite expensive when purchased brand-new. For that reason, many people today ask is it worth the risk buying used tires.

If you are like most vehicle owners, you have probably contemplated the idea of purchasing used tires for your car or truck in the past. People buy used tires every single day, without ever having an issue. At the same time, people also purchase used tires that end up failing and causing an accident.

Choosing used tires requires discipline and due diligence. Just because you find the perfect set of used tires that are well within your budget, this does not mean you should simply agree to purchase them without thoroughly inspecting them first. Take time to ask the seller questions regarding their decision to sell the tires, as they will often give you the information you need in order to make a well-informed decision.

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