Used tires save money, but at what risk?

Don't Waste Your Money

Have you checked out the price of tires lately? The rising price of oil, used to make tires, has sent tire prices up 25 percent in the past few years.

So a new business is springing up in cities everywhere: Selling inexpensive used tires.

But along with these stores come new concerns.

Big Month for Tire Sales

February is the peak time of year for tire eating potholes. But that flat tire is just the first shock.

The second shock often happens at the tire store, with the average tire price now over $100.  And the new "run flats" can cost much more.
As a result the used tire business is now booming. But how good are those used tires?

We sent two producers, Suzanne and Mike, to a used tire store.

The store had one in the correct size for her car. So she paid a bargain $25 for one used tire. The tech told her it was good for thousands more miles.

Doesn't Last Long

But the next morning, it was flat, forced to put on her donut spare.

What happened?  We took her car to an independent auto shop.

The verdict: Too much grime between the tire and metal rim. Marc Duebber said, "there's probably some rust, or some reaction to the metal, and the tires not properly seated to the rim."

But this ASE Certified mechanic then found a bigger problem:  The tread was almost three quarters worn down. Duebber said "you're at 5/32nds there, so you've got a little bit of life left, but not too much."  

He said it was already at risk of hydroplaning in the rain, saying saving 50 bucks is not worth that risk.

"People in this economy are trying to get the more bang for their buck," Duebber said. "They say I am going to local tire store for a used set for half the price, and what they wind up with is exactly what this customer got."

Caution Before You Buy

Duebber says an old tire, such as a spare, can look new but be dry rotting. Many wrecks, some fatal, have been blamed on aged tires, including one involving a nearly 20-year-old used tire mounted on an SUV.

As a result Ford now recommends scrapping tires after 6 years.

Bridgestone/ Firestone recently banned their  2,000 stores from selling used tires.

And the Rubber Manufacturer Association warns used tires pose "a potential risk."

Marc Duebber says skip that new pair of shoes, and instead buy new shoes for your car. "I am definitely not in favor of putting used tires on my vehicle or any vehicle for that point."

How Old Are Your Tires?

You can find out when a tire was made, by examining the date code on the tire sidewall. But you need to know what you are doing. The Tire (click here) has a great explanation on its website for finding your tire's age.

Meantime, the used tire business remains a growing and largely unregulated industry.

So it's a case of buy at your own risk, so you don't waste your money.

Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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