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Is it safe to buy used tires for your car?

Close up of a mechanic's hands changing a car tire valve in a garage
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While buying a used car is a great option to save money while still getting a reliable vehicle, buying used tires for your vehicle is more of a liability. Even though used tires may save you money, the risk is not worth the extra cash in your pocket. Unlike a used vehicle, the naked eye cannot fully see the treatment of tires and there is no history report available. 

Reasons to avoid buying used tires  

Mechanics, junkyards and sometimes even tire shops will sell tires that are used as an alternative to consumers who experience sticker shock over replacing their worn tires. It’s not uncommon for these tires to be priced at half the cost of new — sometimes less.  

But the temptation to save money by buying used tires is not necessarily a safe choice, even if the tires look like they are in good condition.  

Tire lifetime  

Tires are made of rubber compounds, which age over time even if they are unused or barely used. There is no agreement on exactly how long tires can provide safe transportation before the rubber deteriorates to the point where it fails.  

Automakers’ and tire manufacturers’ recommendations for tire replacement, regardless of wear, range from five to 10 years, depending on the conditions that they’re used in. Exposure to heat, sunlight, humidity and salt air are just a few of the factors that affect how quickly rubber compounds in a tire break down.  

The uncertainty around how deteriorated a used tire is can mean risky roads ahead for you and your vehicle.  

Unknown history  

The biggest problem when buying used tires, even those that appear to be brand new or in very good condition, is that you don’t know their history. Their life span may have been diminished in numerous ways — hitting curbs or potholes, getting punctured, becoming exposed to high temperatures or enduring harsh weather.  

No rules and regulations 

Along with the unknown history, used tires do not carry the comfort that comes with the rules and regulations enforced on new tires. Buying new tires from a legitimate seller is a much safer route because they must adhere to federal standards for tire size, treadwear, traction performance and temperature resistance — all things that keep you safe.  

Other ways to save money on vehicle expenses  

All parts of vehicle ownership can end up expensive. But instead of buying used tires and risking your safety, consider other ways to save money on your car.  

Buying used tires is not worth the risk  

The bottom line is that it is not worth risking your own safety to save money on tires. While tires are one of the priciest aspects of your vehicle, they also are the basis of safe driving.  

 

Written by
Rebecca Betterton
Auto Loans Reporter
Rebecca Betterton is the auto loans reporter for Bankrate. She specializes in assisting readers in navigating the ins and outs of securely borrowing money to purchase a car.
Edited by
Auto loans editor