• 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. 

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.

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.