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A Comprehensive Guide to Used Tires

Hundreds of used tires loaded on a truck and trailer to be re-used
These used tires are getting ready for a second life to be re-used on the road again.

Used tires can be a great way to save money when maintaining a vehicle. Most salvage yards only charge $10-$20 per tire unless they’re part of a matching set. Tires are one of the most overlooked and yet durable and important components on a vehicle. Aside from the operator they are the front line of safe travel. Tires are crucial as the entire vehicle relies on them to keep it connected to the road. The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that every year roughly 11,000 tire-related crashes happen. Take a few minutes and read below to brush up on tires and tire safety.

Are Used Tires Safe?

The short answer, YES! A used tire is just as safe as a new tire so long as its in good condition. Just because something is used doesn’t mean that its lower quality. You can purchase perfectly good safe used tires for pennies on the dollar from most auto recyclers. BUT, you need to possess the ability to inspect a tire before you purchase it. Knowing about tires can help prevent you from spending extra money or worse having a catastrophic failure from an unsafe tire.

Lets start by going over some basic information about the different types of tires, tire sizes and ratings, and tire maintenance.Then we will dive into some of the things to look out for when purchasing used tires.

Tire Types, Ratings, & Sizes.

Tires come in all different types, ratings, and sizes. You want to make sure you are putting the correct tires on your vehicle. The first step when searching for tires is finding out what size tires your vehicle takes. You can find this in your owners manual, on the drivers die door jam, or through a google search. If your vehicle is an AWD you may want to avoid running uneven or miss matched tires as this can cause transmission damage.

Tires have the type, size, and rating, along with the DOT information written on the sidewall. In the image below you can see the tire size is [ P215/60R16 ]. The first letter “P” stands for Passenger. You only want to use P (Passenger Metric) or LT (Light Truck Metric) and never use a trailer (ST) or temporary (T) tire on your vehicle. “215” is the width of the tire in millimeters. Then you see a slash followed by the number “60”. This 60 is the aspect ratio of the tire. Aspect ratio is the sidewall height compared to tire width. Next we see an “R” followed by the number “16”. “R” stands for Radial, and the “16” is the rim size in inches. You cannot put a 15″ tire on a 16″ rim and vice versa. I’ve had quite a few customers ask me if they can put different diameter size tires on their rims. The answer is no.

tire sidewall information explained

Once you know your tire size and rating, you want to pay attention to speed rating and the load index. You want to make sure you are not over loading or over driving your tires as this will lead to a catastrophic failure. You can find the suggested ratings for your vehicle in your owners manual or look online.

tire speed rating and load index

How to determine the age of a used tire?

So now that you know what size, speed, and load ratings are, you want to look at the DOT information on the tire. You only want to use DOT rated tires, as these have been tested and are safe for the road. If there is no DOT information on the tires you are looking at do not use them. The DOT number tells you where the tire was made, and most importantly when. At the very end of the DOT sequence is a 4 digit code that tells you the week and year the tires were manufactured. Do not use tires that older than 10 years.

find a tires age by dot numbers

Great! If you're still with us click below to go to the second page of the guide where we explain what to look for when inspecting used tires.