How good are used tires?

Posted at 6:17 PM, Sep 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-24 18:29:45-04

Now that it is fall, mechanics are reminding people to start checking their car tires because bad weather is not that far away.  And a study by the AAA finds that people with newer cars, with longer required maintenance periods, are ending up driving on worn-out tires without knowing it.

According to the AAA study, "relatively worn" tires can decrease a vehicle's stopping distance by 43%, or an additional 87 feet compared to new tires.  For two vehicles traveling 60 mph on wet roads, the car with worn tires will still be going 40 mph when the car with the new tires had stopped.

A big challenge for many people when it comes to buying new tires is cost.

Fox Tire in Buffalo sold more than 30,000 used tires in 2017.  Eric Fox said used tires can be "cost effective" in some cases - such as when a leased vehicle will be turned in.  "It is half the price, and sometimes, it can be 70-80% cheaper to put used tires on," explained Fox.

The company president said used tires can be a good option when trying to replace a damaged tire on an all-wheel drive vehicle that has tires with wear.  Many drivers with all-wheel drive have found that to be an expensive proposition when one tire goes bad, because the car's on-board computer requires all tires to have the same amount of tread.

Limited use tires, like snow tires, can be another good option for used tires, if you are only looking to get a season or two out of them.

Fox Tire said it checks all its used tires for dry-rot and leaks so the tires can be sold with a 90 warranty.  

However, Eric Fox said used tires would not be a good choice for someone who plans to keep a vehicle a long time.  In addition, Fox warns about buying tires off the side of the road, or through the internet on sites like Craigslist.  "There is a reason that tire is not being used and it might be because it has a problem you cannot see."

AAA auto mechanic Steve Arbuthnot reminds drivers that new tires give you the best traction.  While used tires are an option, Arbuthnot said used tires won't last as long and can be "noisy" on the road because of uneven wear from a previous owner.

In order to check the tread depth on your own tires, insert an upside down quarter into the treads.  If you can see all of Washington's head, then it is time for new tires.  If the tread is touching the top of Washington's head, then you are close to the 4/32" tread depth that the AAA found to be problematic in its study, explained Steve Arbuthnot.



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