What Should I Consider When Buying Used Tires?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

When the household budget will not allow the purchase of a new set of tires, looking into purchasing a used set of car tires is a good idea. The good news is that it is possible to buy good quality used tires if you simply know what to look for and what questions to ask. You should focus on the tread, general condition, and cost for each tire in the set.

Cheap tires tend to have less tread, which makes it harder for them to grip the road.
Cheap tires tend to have less tread, which makes it harder for them to grip the road.

The tread on any set of auto tires is extremely important. Since new tires tend to have a full and unblemished amount of tread, most people give this aspect little attention other than possibly considering the design of the tread. However, with used tires, you want to focus less on the design and more on the amount of tread that remains on each tire in the set. Many municipalities have guidelines in place for the depth of tread that is considered safe on local roads. Know what that depth is and do not settle for anything less.

Car tires can be easily changed with the use of a simple car jack.
Car tires can be easily changed with the use of a simple car jack.

Along with making sure there is sufficient tread on the tire, also pay attention to the evenness of wear to the tread on each tire in the set. Avoid used tires where the tread is deeper at some points and noticeably thinner in others. Go for vehicle tires where the wear on the tread is even. You will be much more satisfied with both the performance and the life of tires with even tread than with tires with uneven tire tread.

Used tires may be necessary when the household budget does not allow for new tires.
Used tires may be necessary when the household budget does not allow for new tires.

While some people will tell you that it is okay to run used tires with different tread patterns, don’t believe it. Your ride will be smoother and the wear on the tires will be more even over time if you go with four tires that have the same tread pattern. Unless money is so tight that you have to go with odd treads, do yourself a favor and make sure they all match in terms of the tread.

Used tires are less ideal for hazardous road conditions.
Used tires are less ideal for hazardous road conditions.

Along with the tread, take a look at the sides of the tires. Make sure the sidewalls appear sturdy and there are no signs of puncture marks or other indications that the surface of the tire has been compromised in some manner. While you cannot reasonably expect the sidewalls to look brand new, it is not out of the question to obtain used tires that have obviously been maintained properly. This will mean that you are much more likely to get excellent service from the pre-owned tires.

There is the chance that someone will tell you that going with recapped tires is a better option than used tires. While there are many recapped tires that are of excellent quality, it is important to remember that recaps essentially have a layer that is bound to the surface of a tire. They will hold up well in many different types of road conditions. However, a set of used tires with plenty of tread left will protect you from the small chance of the recapping coming loose while operating the vehicle.

Keep in mind that many garages and tire retailers keep a selection of good quality used tires on hand. Many of these are tires that were traded in when customers purchased new sets of tires. The vendor will often hold onto tires that have a significant amount of tread on them and offer them for sale at prices that are as much as eighty percent less than new tires. Always ask to see which tires are available in the size you need. There is a good chance you will see something that is ideal for your needs as well as within your budget to purchase.

Tire tread and the amount of wear on the sidewalls are important indicators of a tire's condition.
Tire tread and the amount of wear on the sidewalls are important indicators of a tire's condition.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Unless you are racing in the Grand Prix, Formula 1 or Indy 500, you don't need new tires. Tread is bullcrap.

All tires are under government regulatory standards.

Obviously it's about wear, period!

Most tires need replacing at about 100k, and it doesn't matter which make or the hype.

Seriously folks, there's no special rubber out there for everyday cars. Go to a used car parts dealer and get some tires under 20k use at one quarter the price.


Used tires? I buy them every time I buy a used car! Seriously, I would consider a used tire if the the tread is good, even and fairly new, as in the previous owner simply wanted new wheels.

Nearly worn out tires are not worth the labor to install. Retreads? Maybe on an 18 wheeler where the risk of separation is not an issue since other tires are there to pick up the load. That said, I don't know of any trucker who uses a retread on the front (steering) tires other than as a temporary spare.


Don't buy used tires. No matter what you come up with convincing yourself it is a good idea, it isn't. There are too many unknowns with used tires. The only exception I can think of is a shop that customizes brand new cars, removing the wheels and tires.


My tires are really worn out. I do not drive very much, so I am thinking about recapped tires. I have looked for discount used tires, but a lot of places I have called are kind of high. Some of them were so high that I might as well get new tires, but I can't afford them right now.

I am thinking that the recapped might be a good choice for me, since they are cheaper and I only drive in town.


I think its important to provide some information about how to find used tires. You can drive from store to store, pick up the phone book and start calling.

There are also many online resources for searching for used tires.

Best Used Tires provides a service where they ship you the used tires. They are located in Pennsylvania, though, so the shipping gets rather expensive.

You could also use online classifieds, like craigslist. These classifieds are hard to use because they don’t provide a good method for searching for a particular size. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective. I’ve sold a lot of used tires on craigslist and I know a lot of people who spend hours of their life scanning through ad after ad.

Another solution includes classifieds that are designed to provide clean, easy tire searches.

You can also list your tires for free online if you want to sell your used tires.

Post your comments
Forgot password?