If you need to replace your car tyres, opting for Second Hand Tyres may appear to be a cheap and affordable option. While you may save a few dollars at first, used tyres have a shorter lifespan, a higher risk of life-threatening defects, and, most importantly, using pre-worn tyres could endanger your life and the lives of others.
The question is, what’s so bad about used tyres? What exactly are the risks of using them? And what is the most secure and cost-effective alternative to used tyres?
We’ll explore second hand tyres in more detail – so you’ve got all the information you need to know to make a safe, informed choice.
What are second hand tyres?
Used tyres that have been taken off of cars and sold again are referred to as second-hand tyres.
These tyres may have thousands of kilometres on them and are frequently offered for sale with only 50% of their original tread depth. Sometimes less – some tyres can be bought with just a tiny fraction of their legal tread left.
Many used or partially worn tyres are imported from different parts of the world, where regulatory safety standards differ greatly. Put simply, this means that tyre quality might differ significantly from one to the next – and they will not have been through the rigorous safety checks that brand new tyres have.
Is it safe to use second hand tyres?
Second hand tyres are a gamble. That gamble comes down to two factors – the tyres themselves and the people who are selling the tyres.
Let’s start by looking at the potential problems that come with second hand tyres themselves:
Second hand tyres are an unknown
When you buy second hand tyres, you’re buying an unknown. While some tyre damage and repairs will be easy to see, many problems are virtually invisible to the naked eye. A new tyre will be carefully manufactured with quality control checks from tyre brands at every step – this means that internal damage or defects can be spotted and the tyres removed from the process.
Who are you buying from?
In cases like these, you’re potentially buying tyres from someone who has absolutely no investment or interest in your safety. Instead, they’re just hoping to make some money. Again, it’s almost guaranteed that private sellers cannot vouch for the safety or condition of their cheap tyres.
5 problems to look for with second hand tyres.
To be clear, some second hand tyres will be free from problems – but many have issues that are not immediately obvious. Such problems can include:
1. Repaired punctures
When a tyre is punctured, it can sometimes be safely repaired. However, some punctures cannot be repaired – namely those that are on the side wall or close to the side wall. If a puncture has been poorly repaired or repaired on a part of the tyre that is not suitable for repair, then it can compromise your safety.
2. Damage to side walls
Side wall damage is some of the worst damage that can happen to a tyre – often because of how hard it is to see.
The tyre sidewalls are designed to stand up to a lot of damage – but they’re also an essential part of gripping the wheel and keeping air pressure in. Damage to the side wall can mean handling or run-flat effectiveness is seriously compromised.
3. Objects embedded in the rubber
Tyres are very difficult to assess for punctures. Some punctures do not become obviously until the tyre has been installed and slowly begins to lose pressure.
This often happens when small sharp objects become embedded in the tyres – only causing a problem when they’re at the bottom of the wheel with the weight of the vehicle resting on it. This can mean that a second hand tyre won’t cause a problem until it’s on the wheel and you’ve driven away.
4. Flat spots
Tyres that have been used will often have ‘flat spots’ or uneven wear. This means even the best second hand tyres can be unpredictable – especially if they’re previously been fitted on a car that’s had wheel balancing issues or been involved in heavy braking or a collision with other vehicles.
Flat spots can occur when a car has been parked in one position for a long time – with a lot of weight sitting on just one part of the tyre.
5. Age related damage
The rubber compounds used to make tyres can breakdown when they’re not stored properly. While tyre retailers can safely store tyres in controlled conditions for years, they will start to degrade as soon as they’re used or exposed to the elements.
Some age-related damage is obvious – cracking of the tread or sidewall for instance. However, a lot of age-related damage cannot be seen – with the compounds used to create the tyre breaking down internally.
Remember! Tyres connect you to the road
Ultimately, tyres are the only part of the car that’s touching the road. Therefore, no matter how well you drive, how well your car handles, or how well your car brakes ultimately comes down to the grip your tyres have.
When you buy second hand tyres, you add an unknown into the mix. You might find that some second hand tyres are perfectly safe – but, unless you’re a tyre specialist with the ability to scan a tyre to check for flaws, you’ll never completely know whether or not you’re driving on quality tyres.
What’s the best way to save money and get good quality tyres?
If you’re a budget conscious motorist and you’re keen to get great value for money when you buy your next set of tyres, Auto Hero can help!
Let us know a few details about you and your car, then we’ll find the best prices for tyres near you. This way, you know you’re getting brand new safe tyres from tyre shops that are motivated and eager for your business!
Matt is the founder of Autohero.com.au and has been hooked on cars and repairs ever since childhood. A veteran in automotive since leaving school, Matt has completed his trade as a panel beater and is across all things with wheels.
His first car was a 1967 FORD XR Wagon followed by a string of collectable Holden’s.
Have a question for Matt? leave a comment below.