Used tires: tips for buying used tires

Ageing cracks in the tire tread Preview

With the purchase of used tires you can especially for branded tires a bargain and save a lot of money. But beware, with used tires there are often hidden defects. Therefore there are some important rules to follow. In addition to the general condition and age of the tires, it is important to consider this checklist.

Used Tire Checklist

Quick checklist of the most important questions to ask when buying used tires:

  • tire age: max. 10 years for car tires, recommendation max. 6 years
  • tread depth: mind. 1,6 mm, recommendation used summer tires at least. 3 mm, used winter tires mind. 4 mm
  • damage and other wear: look for blisters, cuts, dents and ask for mileage
  • Storage: the tires have been stored in a cool, dry, dark place?
  • warranty: usually there are no warranty claims for private purchases, so double check!

used tires guide

If you are afraid of the risk of buying used tires, you can look for cheap new tires in the tire comparison:

What is the maximum age of tires?

Generally, except for caravans, motorhomes and caravans with 100 km/h registration (tire age here maximum 6 years), no fixed legal limits for the tire age.

the tire industry agrees that tires can be used up to about 10 years of age. The ADAC recommendation for the tire age is about. 6 years.

Where to find the age (DOT number) of the tire?

The age of the tire can be on the sidewall of the tire read as code in the so called DOT number (department of transportation).

The DOT number has 4 digits since the year 2000. Before 2000 the DOT number was only 3 digits. The first two digits indicate the production week and the the following two represent the year of production at.

DOT 3710 would therefore mean that the tire is in the 37. manufactured in the week of the year 2010.
DOT 1411 on the other hand would mean that the tire is in the 14. produced in 2011.

The DOT number can be used to determine the year of manufacture and thus the age of a used tire

Picture: picture of a used tire with DOT number. the tire age is calculated on the basis of the year of manufacture

Tires age through use

tires that are older than 6 years should be replaced. If stored properly for up to 5 years, the properties of unused tires correspond as far as possible to those of new tires. Only by the use on the road, the constant deformation as well as UV and solar radiation tires begin to age particularly quickly.

After a few years, the performance of the tires decreases especially in wet conditions however, even with a good profile noticeably. The braking performance decreases and wet grip is significantly reduced. Therefore, tires should be replaced as soon as a decrease in adhesion is noticed. Even if the tread still meets the legal tread depth requirements.

Long service lives and failures for motorhome and caravan tires

For vehicles that have a particularly long service life, such as motor homes, as well as for caravans and trailers with a speed of 100 km/h and registration according to paragraph 18 stvzo, shorter periods for the tire age apply. Investigations have shown that after approx. 6 years, tire failures are on the increase.

Here the tires may due to the higher loads, the tyres must not be older than 6 years. Older tires may be refused a TuV sticker at the main inspection. Deviating recommendations of the tire manufacturers should be observed without fail!

legal tread depth and recommendation for tire wear

Used summer tires should be recommended from a tread depth of about 3 mm need to be renewed. For used winter tires a tread depth of at least 4 mm recommended.

However, these values are not mandatory, because the legal limit for passenger car tires is 1.6 mm tread depth.

Tires have several small ridge-shaped elevations on the tread as wear indicators. If the tread is worn down to the level of the marking, the tires may no longer be used according to stvzo § 36.

Example of a completely worn used tire without minimum tread depth

Illustration: example of a completely worn used tire

wear and damage

During the use of the wheels over many thousands of kilometers, the usual encounters of the tires with potholes, curbs, objects that have been driven over and partly strong loads during braking and acceleration. This results in wear and tear, which can manifest itself in dents, damage to the tread and general material fatigue.

No warranty or guarantee: since there is generally no manufacturer’s warranty or guarantee on used tires from private sellers, one must before buying used wheels look twice!

Regardless of the age of the tire, the tread condition and the legal minimum tread depth, you should of course also check for any damage to the tread and sidewalls when buying a used car.

Used tires have been deformed by contact with curbs and may have taken damage

Figure: deformation and possible damage to the tire due to curbs

Massive damage to the sidewall of a used passenger car tire

Illustration: damaged sidewall on used passenger car tire

surface damage such as age cracks or cuts

In addition, check whether the surface of the tires already shows cuts or fine ageing cracks. These cracks are caused by the hardening of the rubber compound in connection with the constant load of the tires during driving operation.

Aging cracks in the tire profile

illustration: cracks due to aging on the tire and in the tread

Tires with punctures or cuts should be subjected to a thorough inspection by a specialist. To the outside visible dents or bubbles on the sidewall have no place on a tire. These tires should be discarded!

running noise due to sawtooth

Used tires are often louder than new tires. unevenness in the tread can lead to strong running noises. Often it is the so-called sawtooth, which then becomes noticeable in a typical tire noise. In this case, the tread blocks are worn to different degrees, so that the tread blocks protrude as with a saw.

Running noise due to sawtooth tread pattern

Illustration: running noise due to sawtooth profile

What to consider when storing tires?

Also how the tires were stored is of enormous importance. tires should be stored in a dark, dry and cool place. Any foreign objects, such as small stones, should be removed from the tread.

  • Dark
  • Dry
  • Cool
  • Remove foreign bodies
  • Upright in a tire rack or lying individually

If sufficient space is available, tires standing in a tire rack well taken care of. Otherwise it is advisable to follow the tires one by one. Complete wheels are best hung on a rim tree upright, so the tires are not deformed. here too, if there is enough space, the wheels can be stored lying next to each other. Stacking of tires on top of each other is also possible, but can be with longer duration to a deformation of the rubbers guide.

The deformation of the tires causes imbalances, which must be removed by a workshop for a fee.

Stones must be removed from the tire tread before storage

Illustration: stones must be removed from the tire profile before storage

Do used tires need to be rebalanced??

Used tires and wheels must always be checked for radial and lateral runout, as this causes imbalance, which has a direct effect on driving operation. Damaged rims (z.B. When parking) usually also lead to an imbalance due to the deformation. Such imbalances are most likely to be noticed as vibration in the steering wheel and less by a tire noise or rolling noise.

Even if a tire with lateral or radial runout does not initially pose a direct safety risk, the forces acting on the chassis, shock absorbers and wheel bearings are very harmful for their lifetime.

Remember that an unbalance of only 50g on the wheel at 100km/h already becomes 10kg! rebalancing of the wheels and tires must be carried out in any case. The cost of balancing used wheels is about 10,- euro per wheel.

Illustration: imbalance on the wheel due to damaged rim with air loss

What to consider when mounting used tires?

Before mounting used tires and wheels, check if the tires have a prescribed running direction and observe them during mounting. If the direction of rotation is prescribed, they are found on the tire the word "rotation with a arrow symbol.

Furthermore, the previous position of the used wheels on the car has often been marked on the tire with chalk. The respective wheel position should be maintained. A left tire must therefore not simply be mounted on the right side of the vehicle.

A change from the front axle to the rear axle, on the other hand, is often possible, if all 4 wheels and tires have the same dimensions have.

check air pressure is essential

Be sure to check the inflation pressure of used tires before mounting and driving them! the correct air pressure can often be found in the vehicle manual or on a sticker on the vehicle (often in the tank cap). In the case of special dimensions and a tire size not listed, ask your tire dealer or the manufacturer for the correct tire pressure.

All information on tire pressure

Buy used tires with tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)?

Does your vehicle have a tire pressure monitoring system with sensors?? Then you must pay special attention that when you buy used wheels, the special valves with sensor also fit your vehicle. Often the batteries of the used tires TPMS sensors are already empty. Replacing the batteries is usually not possible.

The right mounting accessories and wheel bolts for used wheels

For alloy wheels and steel wheels, there are often different mounting accessories such as wheel nuts, wheel bolts, centering rings and wheel studs. The correct fasteners for wheels is mandatory for every vehicle and wheel. Here, mistakes are often made, which then manifest themselves in damaged rims, destroyed wheel hubs and defective threads or can even lead to a lost wheel.

Of course correct torque when screwing on used tires to consider. Here a torque wrench is very helpful. The correct torque in nm can be found in the papers of the vehicle manufacturer or in the mounting instructions of the rims.

After a drive of about 30 km you should tighten the wheels again and check the tightness of the wheel bolts.

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Christina Cherry
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