Tires are one of the most important items for your vehicle in terms of maintenance.
However, they are also one of the most expensive purchases you will make for your car.
Used tires might save you money. The following guide will help you make the right decision.
Automoblog and its partners may be compensated if you purchase one of the products below.
Tires are one of the more expensive items you can buy for your car. While you don’t replace them often, it’s important you have the right tires for your vehicle and budget. After all, those four patches of rubber are keeping your vehicle on the road.
However, not everyone can afford to buy new tires – especially as the cost of owning a vehicle continues to increase. Because new tires are expensive, you may have asked if used tires actually exist? And if so, is there a potential for savings?
Perhaps the bigger question is whether or not they are safe. Sure, you might save money, but you always need to consider safety when you buy tires. In this guide, we will examine the pros and cons of new versus used, and how pre-owned tires have their advantages if you are shopping on a budget. Finally, we provide some comparison pricing to show you the difference in cost.
Used Tires vs. New
Since you’re buying a brand new product, the tires are covered by a plethora of warranties including tread life and quality of construction. In terms of handling, braking, steering feel, comfort, and road noise, new tires are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you will get until you actually drive on them, but doing research ahead of time will help.
If there’s one thing certain about new tires it’s the higher cost, especially if your vehicle has 19-inch or 20-inch wheels. If your vehicle needs a set of high-performance or ultra-high-performance (UHP) rubber, you will pay more since those are more specialized compared to normal passenger car tires.
This is where pre-owned tires come into play. Granted they don’t come with that type of warranty, but you can save hundreds of dollars while still getting the right tires for your vehicle. That money you can use for repairs, maintenance, or installation costs including balancing and/or alignment.
Used tires are also great for leased vehicles. If you think you’re going to exceed the allotted mileage of your lease, you can avoid additional penalties (like replacing the OEM rubber) with a set of pre-owned ones. When the lease expires, swap the used tires for the OEM rubber and you’re done.
Are Used Tires Safe?
Frankly, it depends. Not all tires are the same. Some may have more patches than most, but it doesn’t mean the tire is bad. The general rule is to check for two things: tread depth and damage. Of course, you don’t want to buy anything with a tread depth near the limit of 3/32” – and in reality 4/32” is cause for consideration.
Once your tread reaches those measurements, it’s time for a different set. Research from AAA suggests that driving on worn tires at highway speed or on wet surfaces can increase stopping distances by up to 90 feet. That’s more than the length of an eighteen-wheeler! That said, when shopping for used tires, always look for a safe tread depth. You should move on if you see visible signs of damage, deep cuts, irregular wear, bulges, or deformation.
If you don’t have a tread depth gauge, there is an easy home remedy you can use to check your current tires. Place an upside-down quarter between the grooves and look at Washington’s head. If you can see all of it, it’s time for a different set. If you’re shopping on a budget and thinking a set of pre-owned tires might be for you, it’s best to focus your attention on where to buy them.
Doing a quick Google search will likely lead you to BestUsedTires.com. The site has a healthy selection of top brands like Firestone, Goodyear, Bridgestone, Continental, and BFGoodrich among others. They also have a 90-day money back guarantee, free delivery, and tens of thousands of positive reviews online.
While there are other places to buy used tires, the price match guarantee and good selection at BestUsedTires.com made it fairly easy for us to make some comparisons. We also think the company’s inspection process (detailed below) is thorough and comprehensive. Regardless of where you purchase pre-owned tires, make sure to ask questions beforehand so you know you are getting a quality set.
In order to ensure safety, each tire is inspected at least twice prior to listing, according to the company. In addition, all tires are given a special pressure test when they arrive. If there are prior damages or repairs made to the tire in question, they follow the Rubber Manufacturers Association guidelines:
The hole must not exceed 6mm in diameter.
The hole must be in the tread section of the tire.
It must be repaired using both a stem and patch.
Does NOT sell something manufactured before 2008.
If a tire fails any of those points, it’s discarded. When they say “the tread section of the tire,” what that means is no damage or holes in the sidewall. Patching sidewall holes are a gamble you won’t win, considering they are partly responsible for the strength, durability, and ride quality of a particular tire. If a tire has a damaged sidewall, it needs to be replaced entirely. Most reputable shops will not repair something like a nail in a sidewall; they will insist on a total replacement (and they’re right.)
So, are used tires safe? Yes, but only if you buy from a reputable seller/dealer and if you find something with a higher percentage of tread life. Regardless of where you buy, always do your research ahead of time and ask questions.
How Long Do Used Tires Last?
Not all makes and brands offer excellent wear life. Some are better than others, while in some cases tread life is determined by the type of tire. For example, touring tires are expected to wear slower than performance rubber or summer tires. The same can be said for H/T or highway-terrain tires for pickup trucks or SUVs, which have longer wear characteristics than A/T or all-terrain tires.
In most cases, tread life is dependent on many factors including the general condition of the vehicle, driving behavior, the number of miles traveled, and existing road/weather conditions. So, to answer the question of how long a given set of tires will last, new or used: it depends on how you drive your vehicle and where. You might not have any control over the latter, but if you drive carefully and responsibly, you should be able to squeeze every last mile out of a set of used tires.
Our experience says not to purchase anything unless there’s at least 7 to 9/32” of tread depth – and even higher it it’s a more aggressive truck or SUV tire. Anything less than that is probably bad news for longevity, comfort, and traction. Check the listings carefully wherever you shop.
Most sellers will display the remaining tread depth outright, but you don’t have to take their word for it. The listings should come with actual images of the product. If anything strikes you as odd (like bald spots or uneven wear marks), move on and check for other options.
How Much Can I Save?
Again, the answer depends on the type of tire and vehicle. In order to come up with a concrete answer, let’s compare the actual price of new tires and used ones from the same make and brand. With BestUsedTires.com, the savings can be significant – up to 65 percent in some cases. All orders include a 90-day money back guarantee and free shipping via FedEx. Orders are usually shipped the same day they are placed.
Comparison: Passenger Cars
Let’s start with the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus. It’s a tire for passenger cars, small coupes, and compact hatchbacks/sedans. The Turanza Serenity Plus is an all-season touring tire promising comfort, a quiet ride, and longer tread life. The Turanza Serenity Plus starts at $184.00 for the 215/50/R17 size. If you do the math, that’s around $736.00 for a set of four new tires.
BestUsedTires.com has a selection of used Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus tires in the same 215/50/R17 configuration. The company is selling a set of four for only $324.00, which equates to $81.00 each – much less expensive than a comparable set new. The used Bridgestones have an approximate tread depth of 9 to 10/32”, or 95 percent of their original depth. Doing the math once more, you save around $412.00 in this transaction, a significant amount for what is essentially the same tire.
Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus
Savings: $412.00 (56%)
Second Comparison: Passenger Cars
For our next example, let’s compare a new set of Falken Sincera SN250 A/S with a pre-owned alternative. Amazon lists the Sincera SN250 A/S at around $120.00 each for the 225/45/R17 size. Mind you, Falken tires are known for having lower prices among popular brands.
However, a quick search at BestUsedTires.com reveals the same Falken Sincera AN250 A/S tires (and same 225/45/R17 configuration) for only $62.00 each. You save 50 percent off the original price, and you’re still getting something with 10-11/32” of tread depth.
Falken Sincera SN250 A/S
Savings: $232.00 (48%)
Comparison: Trucks & SUVs
Tires for pickup trucks and SUVs are numerous, but let’s compare a well-known brand. Goodyear’s Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure with Kevlar is a popular choice. Goodyear says the Wrangler A/T Adventure with Kevlar is their best tire in terms of versatility, both on- and off-road. Since it’s infused with Kevlar, it’s considerably tougher and more rugged than an average A/T tire.
No doubt it’s a great choice but new they cost about $180.00 each (255/65/R17). This doesn’t include the $14.00 installation fee per tire. In short, you’re looking at around $200.00 each for the Goodyear Wrangler A/T Adventure with Kevlar.
However, BestUsedTires.com is offering a set of two Goodyear Wrangler A/T Adventure with Kevlar for $205.75. It’s the same size at 255/65/R17 with an approximate tread depth of 11 to 12/32”, which is healthy. From this transaction (assuming you can get two more at the same price), you could save nearly half if you bought used instead of new.
Goodyear Wrangler A/T Adventure with Kevlar
Savings: $388.50 (49%)
Second Comparison: Trucks & SUVs
Michelin is one of the best tires on the market. One of their most popular choices for light trucks and SUVs is the Defender LTX M/S. It’s an all-season tire with the on-road refinement of touring rubber. Michelin offers it with a 60,000-mile limited warranty. But there’s a problem if you are on a budget: they start at $192.00 each for 265/60/R17 sizes. Michelin is a great tire for any type of vehicle, but it comes at a price.
However, we found the same Michelin Defender LTX M/S tires in the same 265/60/R17 configuration at BestUsedTires.com. They cost $293.00 for a set of two used, which is equivalent to $146.00 each. With a tread depth of 11-12/32” it’s a smashing deal compared to buying new.
Michelin Defender LTX M/S
Savings: $184.00 (24%)
Conclusion: A Solid Alternative (Just Do Your Research)
We’re not saying used rubber is always better than new, but there’s no denying the cost savings potential here. It’s hard to ignore the money you can save for what are essentially the same tires.
They are safe as long as they pass inspection and have enough tread left. And if you’re thinking about buying pre-owned tires for your vehicle, make sure to only buy from reliable dealers. This will ensure each tire is thoroughly inspected and certified for road worthiness.
We found BestUsedTires.com to be a great choice for buying used tires online with their money-back guarantee, great reviews, free shipping, and customer service.
And remember: with any automotive product or repair, it’s best to do your research ahead of time.
*Prices accurate at the time of this writing. Future pricing subject to change.