Buying Used Tires: Are They Safe, & How Much Can You Save

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Tire shop near me

Few people like to buy new tires. They are one of the most expensive items to maintain on a car, choosing the right tires for your vehicle can be confusing, and it can take a large part of your day to get tires and install them.

Used tires typically cost 30-50% less than new, even though they’re almost as good as new. The fact that they have ever been mounted on a vehicle lowers the price of the tire itself. So you can get the best possible deal if you find a used tire, or even a complete set, in good condition.

For example:

  • Michelin Defender® costs $160 per new tire and up ; you can get a used one with 10-11/32 tread for $87.99 or consider other deals.
  • Pirelli P ZERO™ High Performance typically costs around $193 for a new tire, while a used one with 5-6/32 tread remaining can be purchased for $95.
  • Goodyear Eagle® LS-2 ROF currently starts at $357. This model can also be found for $75 unrepaired and with 7/32 tread remaining.
  • Michelin LTX M/S2 is normally $220 new, but you can save big and buy it for around $100 with 7-9/32 tread left.

Why buy used tires

A way to save money and help the environment. There are 3 good reasons to buy used tires:

  • they are cheaper
  • They may be in good condition
  • They are environmentally friendly.

How much do used tires cost?

Is buying used tires worth the risk? For those who don’t have enough money to buy new tires, buying used tires is your only option. Used tires still have sufficient tread depth, and do not have uneven or unusual wear. These tires do not have any defects or damage, and if they are less than 6 or 8 years old, they may be a good buy. However, you have to check the tires thoroughly because buying one is always a risk.

You can buy used tires from various sources such as repair shops, garage sales, tire stores, Craigslist, Amazon, and eBay. Garages and other tire stores that offer used tires get them from customers who have bought new tires from them. In these cases, the tire owner receives no payment for their old tires and is charged a disposal fee of $6 or more for each tire. Therefore, the store that offers the tires has no charge on your used tires unless you purchased them from a salvage yard.

The price of used tires can range from $25 to $160, usually half the price of a new tire of the same model. The cost will depend on different factors. Thus, you can get the used tire for 50 or 90 dollars.

Where to buy used tires, Advantages and disadvantages of each option

Overall, despite the list of downsides to buying used tires, about 30 million used tires are sold in the US each year, accounting for about 10% of the global tire market. This means that many drivers have found the benefits of such a purchase quite attractive.

There are several places and services you can visit to buy used tires :

  • Go to the nearest junkyard if you need a used tire or two in relatively good condition as soon as possible.
  • If you have time to wait and want to choose from a variety of options and get the best balance between quality and price, buy online from another driver.
  • Choose a used car tire and parts store if you need an online consultation before choosing tires or help with your choice.
  • Go to a local tire shop if you need on-the-spot advice and prefer to inspect the tires yourself before purchase.

Tire shops

There are tire stores that sell both new and used items, as well as used parts specialty stores.


  • Good quality tires. The staff usually check the tires before putting them up for sale. Often the rubber is still in great condition, with most of the tread even up to 10/32″. Many drivers change their tires every couple of years for safety or other reasons. Most new tire dealers don’t keep the tires dropped off by customers and sell them to these used tire shops.
  • Assistance from experienced staff. You can ask the staff for advice on the type of tire you need, tire mix, etc. and any other issue related to tire choice.
  • Different payment options. In most cases, used tires can be purchased with cash or a credit card. This is the advantage brick and mortar facilities have over online shopping.
  • Additional services available. Some shops also offer additional services, such as fitting and balancing second-hand tires. By buying the tires there, you can get a discount for those services or even have them all for free. In other cases, you may have to pay $15 to $45 or more per tire for these services.
  • Ability to inspect tires immediately. Before buying second-hand tyres, you can check their condition yourself for as long as you need. So you can choose the tire that meets your top priorities.


  • Limited range in stock. Tire stores often have a limited range of used tire models to offer. It is also possible that there are no kits available that fit your vehicle. However, some stores may offer to order the tire you need from their warehouse, if one is available.
  • Possible scam. Some sellers may offer you tires with patches and defects, or recalled items. Therefore, it is vital that you take a good look at each tire you choose. Unfortunately, there are often people who buy used tires from dealers who make money off good-looking scrap tires.
  • There is no guarantee. There is no guarantee, since the tires are usually not from a particular store, but are purchased from other stores or sellers. There is nothing to give, as the store is solely responsible for your choice of items to sell. If you buy used tires from a shop that repairs the pre-mounted tires they sell, you may be able to get a warranty on the service performed.

Scrapyards, Junkyards

Scrap yards are places where vehicles damaged in accidents or those that malfunction beyond repair are stored. Although some of its parts may be useless, the tires are usually very good. Anyone can buy used tires at a junkyard or arrange a delivery at a repair shop.


  • Inquire about tire availability. Before buying used tires, check the availability of the tires you need at the store. Many scrapyards have digital databases with information on the availability and location of each piece they have. They can also help you choose another tire model with the same specifications that is currently available.
  • Buying a tire is possible. If only one tire on your vehicle is worn out or you need a replacement, you can get a good deal at a salvage yard. A tire typically costs only $10 to $50, depending on its condition.
  • Opportunity to inspect tires. You have the opportunity to inspect the inner section of the tire, as scrap yards often sell tires without rims. You can check for internal damage, improper repairs, cuts, cracks, and other issues before you buy used tires.
  • Substitution Policy. Some salvage yards have a special replacement policy that gives you the right to demand another part if yours fails too soon. Different establishments’ policies often vary, so you may need to prove to them that you haven’t totaled the piece yourself.


  • Little chance of finding an equal game. Finding a complete set can be a problem, and even if you find the same model and size, its status may be different. Different cars end up in scrapyards for various reasons, and some almost new set tires get damaged along with your vehicle.
  • Undetectable damage. These problems can be uneven wear, belt damage, flat spots, etc. For example, if a tire was used on a misaligned wheel, it will have worn unevenly, and sometimes it is very difficult to notice. However, once you mount the tire to the vehicle, you will notice how problematic it becomes to drive. If you buy used tires with these types of problems, it can be a complete waste of money, as not all problems are fixable.
  • There is no guarantee. There is no guarantee on the items they sell, although some establishments have replacement policies. The reason is that there is no evidence of previous maintenance or of the reason for the vehicle malfunction provided by the driver.

Online stores

Online services like Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, etc. They can help you buy used tires with a great balance of price and condition.


  • Many options. You can find the same tire model in different conditions and for different prices. So, depending on your priorities, you can choose the option that suits you best. On Amazon, there are currently over 5,000 listings to choose from.
  • Opportunity to contact sellers. Contacting the seller directly will help you make the right decision. The more you know about the item, the better your choice. You can also ask for a discount or discuss delivery details.
  • Convenient delivery options. You can choose from several delivery options, such as standard and express. In addition, you will save some time, since the package will be delivered to a certain address and you will not have to go anywhere to pick it up.
  • Comparison of options. Some services offer a list of all the options of the model, size, etc. What are you looking for so you can compare them? You will find a brief description of the tire specifications, their condition and their prices. This will help you to see the best prices compared to new tires and to choose the most suitable option.
  • Seller ratings and reviews. You can find the best seller by looking at the rating they have. Some marketplaces also offer reviews and comments from customers who buy used tires frequently. This will help ensure that you get exactly what you ask for at a reasonable price in a short period of time.


  • There is no guarantee of the reliability of the sellers. There is no guarantee that you will receive what you have ordered, although web-based marketplaces may offer you some security for your money. It is possible that you get the wrong tire and the seller stopped providing service long ago. Also, if you have to return the order, it will take more time and money.
  • Wait time. Depending on where you order, it may take several days (or sometimes weeks) for your package to arrive. However, there are special express delivery options that, for a certain amount of money, will help you receive the item in a matter of days, sometimes hours.
  • Shipping costs. There are free delivery options on some services that will make you wait a week or more. However, if you want to receive the tires earlier, you may have to pay an additional fee. The cost depends on the weight/size of the order, as well as the time. For example, Amazon offers same-day delivery for $8.99 per order (+$0.99 per item). eBay has a more complicated system for determining delivery costs.
  • There are no cash payments.
    Shopping online requires a credit card and often a PayPal account. Therefore, it can be inconvenient for people who do not have a bank account.

Online auto parts or tire specialty stores

There are online stores that sell used tires as part of a wider range of products and others that only sell tires. They get the parts from the drivers, they buy them at scrap yards, tire shops, etc. and resell them.


  • Professional choice. The professional staff tests all the items and mentions their possible drawbacks in the descriptions. Also, if you’re not sure what you need, the store staff will help you choose.
  • Wide range of options. Most reputable online tire stores have a wide range of items in different sizes, ages and prices. Some used tires for sale can be up to 10/32″ tread and one year old. However, a cheaper option may be 5/32″ tread and 5-6 years old.
  • Comfortable search. You can search for needed items by size, age, etc., or by typing in some vehicle information. Some online tire stores have sophisticated search systems where you can also find many options for Original Equipment tires for your particular vehicle model. There are usually several brands of tires that have items made specifically for one model.
  • Shipping to the tire shop. Your order can be delivered directly to the tire store of your choice from the list available on the store’s website. You can drive there when the order arrives and have your new tires installed in about an hour.


  • Additional costs. You may have to add up to $100-150 to your bill for tire installation. Not all tire shops will provide mounting and balancing for free if you haven’t bought used tires from them. Some services work with tire shops and can recommend a trusted local shop.
  • Differences in Money-back guarantees, warranties, and replacement policies may differ from store to store. So, before buying used tires, make sure you read the conditions well.
  • Possible scam. There are scammers who create services to sell scrap tires or no tires, taking money from customers and creating fake reviews. Before choosing a service, read all the necessary information on their website and ask them questions if you have any. Also, consider reading independent online reviews to learn all the pros and cons of a particular online store.

Things to check before buying used tires

There are a number of things to check before purchasing pre-mounted tyres:

  • tread depth Used tires can have different amounts of tread, and the more, the better. 6/32″ should be the starting point if you plan on using the tires for at least a couple of years. Do not buy tires that have less than 4/32″ of tread, as they are stripped and dangerous.
  • Tire age. Look for the DOT code on the sidewall of the tire and look at the last four digits. The first two numbers are the week and the last two are the year of tire manufacture. Thus, 2309 would be week 23 of 2009, and this tire should be considered old. It is better to buy tires that are less than 6 years old. Tires that are older should be fully serviced every year and can pose a threat to your safety. The rubber begins to deteriorate once the tire is released, and it ages even if it is not used.
  • Withdrawal from the market. Before you buy used tires, check the tire identification numbers (numbers and letters that appear after the DOT on the tire) using the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) recall lookup tool. Manufacturers recall their tires when they find defects that can be dangerous to owners of the items.
  • Damage. Check for cuts, punctures, cracks and bulges on the tread, sidewalls and beads. Some rubbing is acceptable, but there should be no obvious damage, no matter how small. There may be patches inside, which means the tire has been repaired. Since not all repairs make the tire operational again, it’s best to buy unrepaired used tires. Also, look for any exposed cords or cables – there should be none, or the tire construction could be damaged.
  • UTQG code. The Standard Tire Quality Rating is a system that shows estimates of tire traction, tread wear, and temperature resistance. When buying used tires, pay attention to the degree of tread wear: the higher the number, the slower the tire will wear. The most optimal variant will be a tire with the grade of 400-600. However, remember that longer lasting tires offer less performance and comfort.
  • Uneven wear. Uneven tread wear patterns indicate different problems with the vehicle the tires were on and the items themselves. For example, two shoulder wear indicates that the tire was under-inflated. And this is a frequent cause of blowouts, so you shouldn’t buy such a tire. It will have a short life, wear as unevenly as before, and pose a hazard to you and your vehicle.

Possible dangers to be aware of when buying used tires

When shopping for used tires, make sure you are aware of the following scam techniques used by some dealers.

  • Clear date codes. If a tire is too old but looks new, some dealers may remove the date code. Tire aging is dangerous, and once you mount such a tire, the tread can separate at any time. Dry cracks will quickly increase in size when you inflate the tire.
  • Inadequate repairs. When irreparable damage is repaired, the tire loses air and the damage expands. For example, ozone cracks are irreparable, since once the reaction starts, it is impossible to stop it. However, some people patch those cracks and sell them as “professionally repaired.”
  • Bald tire regrooving process
  • Resculpted. Some worn tires may be illegally regrooved to meet legal tread depth requirements. Such tires are prone to damage, since there is much less rubber left in them. Using these types of tires is also illegal, and you can subsequently be fined up to $1,000 per tire. Another drawback is that you can lose your vehicle insurance. There are tires made specifically for rear regrooving, which you can tell by looking at the sidewall of the tire. However, most tires are not suitable for this life extension technique.
  • Sale of fake tires. Fake tires are made to look like the products of famous companies, but the materials are often of lower quality. These types of tires can cause a number of problems. Their lifespan is completely unexpected, and they’re also illegal. There are worrying reports of fake tires entering the US market, so it’s best not to buy suspicious used tires. It is vital that you check all codes before purchasing used tires. Manufacturer facility codes, TIN and date are especially important as companies track their tires with them. If the information seems suspicious, contact the authorized dealers to check it.
  • Paint the tires.Some dealers paint old tires to make them look newer, as tires often lose their deep dark color as they age. They can tell you that the tires were stored in proper condition and that, even if they are old, they are fully functional. However, once you mount those tires and start driving, the problems will show. An old tire can cause unusual vibrations that can damage the tire and the wheel. These tires often have cracks, and even if they are hidden from your view, they let air out. This can cause a blowout and an accident. Also, old tires hardly hold together, so after a couple of hundred miles or even less, the tread can separate from the rest of the tire, causing serious safety issues.

Are all used tires the same?

Not necessarily. First, let’s distinguish between used and remanufactured tires.

Used tires are generally tires that have been damaged and then repaired or have been taken from cars going to a junkyard. Some car owners sell used tires and bring them to the shop. The quality of a used tire can vary quite a bit, depending on the origin, age, tread life and tire manufacturer. Take a good look at the tread left on the car tire because it certainly tells you its quality.

Remanufactured tires are different. Also known as “bead-to-bead reshaping,” this process actually restores old tires, especially for tires that have internal damage. Essentially, tires manufactured as the same manufacturing process as a new tire, but retain the internal components of a tire (steel/polyester belts, sidewall, rims, etc.).

During remanufacturing, the carcass is inspected and reconditioned, and a new sidewall and tread are vulcanized directly to the carcass and internal components, permanently bonding to the tire. Also, wheel alignment will be done along with this process.

On the outside, a remanufactured tire is essentially the same as a new tire, such as performance tires, while maintaining the same internal components. For those wary of buying used tires, remanufactured tires offer a great alternative, and are still less expensive than buying new tires.

If you are thinking of buying a set of used tires, you have to take into account your needs and your situation. You can choose between a summer tire, winter tires or all-terrain tires. You can also check for proper mounting and balancing and even request test drives.

Always practice preventive maintenance on your car. You can take your car to the experts and have them check your tire tread depth. Regular tire rotation and oil change is recommended. When traveling, to avoid a puncture, always carry a spare wheel.

Are there regulatory standards for used tires?

Yes. In the USA, any reputable tire store will comply with the guidelines established by the American Tire Manufacturers Association. These guidelines establish the quality control and regulatory guidelines used to ensure that repaired and used tires are of high quality and safe.

However, it is important to note that tire shops are not required to adhere to these regulations. If you buy tires from a low-quality store, you can put yourself in danger.

To choose the right tires, check the tire’s dot code. The dot code reveals the tire’s manufacturing date. The first two digits of the dot code indicate the week of manufacture and the last two digits reveal the year of manufacture.

Why not buy used tires: Things to consider

There are at least 7 reasons not to buy used tires:

  1. A seller may be lying.
  2. It can be difficult to inspect the tire.
  3. There may be internal damage.
  4. There is no guarantee.
  5. Over time you can spend more money.
  6. The rubber can be old and deteriorate.
  7. The statistics are not on the used tire side.

1. Reason not to buy used tires: Misinformation is hard to spot

Many sellers lie about the condition of their tires, especially if they sell them online. The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) demonstrated a couple of years ago the danger of reusing old tires. They bought some tires and were not surprised that each used tire had certain minor or even major problems. Tires had excessive wear, dry cracks, improper repair, etc. That is why they encourage all states to implement legislation on used tires. The idea was to establish fines for those who sold low-quality tires and inform drivers why they should not buy used tires.

2. Reason not to buy used tires: Inspection difficulties

You may not be aware of some issues, especially the fact that the shipment may have already been recalled. Some minor damage can also go unnoticed, and some of it can cause serious accidents.

Tire safety bills developed by the RMA and the Tire Industry Association (TIA) and enforced in several states now suggest that you avoid buying used tires that have :

  • Less than 2/32” of tread remaining.
  • Signs of tread, ply, or cord separation, dents, chunks, or other types of damage.
  • Exposed wires or any other internal parts due to damage.
  • Repairs on the sidewalls, heels or shoulders of the tread.
  • Punctures that were not properly repaired.
  • There is no clearly visible Department of Transportation (DOT) code.
  • The manufacturer has withdrawn it from the market.
  • Punctures of more than ¼”.

3. Reason not to buy used tires: Internal damage may go unnoticed

If you buy a used tire online, there is no way to inspect the inside of a tire. In fact, looking for certain internal damage is impossible even if purchased from a vendor or someone else on the spot. The seller may not know about those damages either, which makes the situation even worse.

Internal damage is usually caused by:

  • Small pieces of glass that are inserted into the rubber.
  • Numerous impacts weakening cords and belts and causing tread separation.
  • Invisible holes that let water into the tire.
  • Impacts that cause bulging on the outside (there may be a cut). source:

4. Reason not to buy used tires: No tire registration, no regulations, no warranty

When you buy a used tire from a dealer, your registration does not change. Therefore, if the manufacturer decides to withdraw the lot that our tire is part of, you will not be notified. Also, there will be no warranty on your tire(s) for the same reason. This renders the tire removal system inoperative in many ways. Sean Kane, the founder and president of Safety Research & Strategies Inc. proves that the system is not as efficient as it used to be.

In addition, there is no national regulation on the used tire sector. Several states use the aforementioned bills, but they do not cover all aspects. This means that there are no guarantees by law, however regulations on maximum tread wear and age work for this field.

5. Reason not to buy used tires: You may end up overpaying

If you buy a tire with even half the tread life, you will spend more money mounting and balancing to get the same amount of mileage as you would with a new set.

For example, you buy a set of tires with half their useful life, say 25,000 miles, for $50. To get the mileage you would get from a new set (50,000 miles), you will have to pay twice as much for mounting and balancing. So the total price will be about 480-560 dollars. But if you put on a set of new tires for $100 each, you’ll pay $440 to $480 to get the wheels working.

6. Reason not to buy used tires: The rubber may be old

Rubber is subject to ageing. A tire can last from 5 to 10 years, depending on maintenance, exposure to UV rays, ozone, salt, dust, etc. After the 5th year, annual inspections are required to check the condition of the rubber, as the compounds begin to dry out and deteriorate.

You can determine the age of a tire by reading the four-digit DOT date code on the sidewall of the tire. The first two numbers mean the week of manufacture, and the second – the year, so 2815 will mean the 28th week of 2015.

However, this may not be enough if you buy a used tire as you may not know everything about its condition and previous maintenance. Lack of cleaning procedures or excessive exposure to sunlight can cause the rubber to break down much faster.

7. Reason not to buy used tires: Negative used tire usage statistics

A damaged, poorly repaired, or old tire can cause a wide variety of incidents that can not only destroy your vehicle, but also injure you, your passengers, and nearby pedestrians. In the United States, 11,000 traffic accidents occur annually due to old tire failure, resulting in a large number of deaths. However, 30 million used tires are traded and sold each year, and a large number of them are unfit for use. In the UK, one in five drivers have fitted second-hand tires at least once, and ¼ of them would not do so again.

To buy or not to buy

Most manufacturers suggest against buying used tires due to known safety issues. Even minor damage can cause serious problems, such as tread separation and sidewall blowout. Used tires are not suitable for those who can afford to spend more at once to buy a new set or for those who put safety as their first priority. Buying used tires from reputable companies greatly decreases the chance of getting a low-quality tire, as the products are usually chosen and inspected by professionals.