Buying used tires can save you a lot of money compared to purchasing new ones, but it does require some savvy shopping. Used tires may have plenty of treads left, but their age and prior use can affect safety and longevity. When searching for used tire shops and evaluating pre-owned tires, remember the following tips to make the most informed purchase.
Locating Nearby Used Tire Shops
The first step is finding used tire shops in your area. Here are some ways to locate nearby stores that sell pre-owned tires:
Search Online Directories
Online business directories like Google Maps and Yelp are great for finding local used tire shops. Search for terms like “used tires near me” or “used tire shops [your city]”. Read reviews and check out photos to get a feel for the store.
Check Auto Parts Stores
Many national auto parts store chains like AutoZone offer used tires. Call your local stores to ask if they sell pre-owned tires and get details on their current selection and prices.
Look on Craigslist and Facebook
Searching Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace will turn up individuals and smaller shops selling used tires in your area. This can sometimes yield deals but use caution when buying from strangers.
Drive Around Industrial Areas
Look for small tire shops off the highway in industrial parks and commercial areas. These mom-and-pop type shops often have a selection of used tires.
Ask for Referrals
Friends, family, coworkers, and other drivers can refer you to used tire shops they’ve bought from before. Firsthand recommendations from acquaintances are precious.
Call Ahead to Verify Tire Selection
Once you’ve identified some used tire shops near me open now, call each one to see what they currently have in stock for your vehicle’s tire size. Ask questions like:
- What brands and models do you have in P215/60R16 right now?
- How worn are the used tires you have in stock? Can you estimate the tread depth?
- Approximately how old are the used tires you have?
- Do you offer any warranty or guarantee on used tires?
This lets you know the shop’s selection and condition before visiting. Some used tire stores have websites and inventory lookups that can also help with this.
Inspect Tires Thoroughly Before Buying
When you visit a used tire shop, thoroughly inspect each tire you’re considering inside and out. Look for:
Ideally, you want at least 50% tread depth remaining, equivalent to 5/32 of an inch. Shallow tread under 3/32 inches should be avoided. Measure tread depth around the entire tire in several places.
Tread Wear Patterns
Uneven tread wear, like cupping or feathering, can indicate suspension problems or alignment issues. Only buy used tires with standard wear patterns.
Look for cuts, cracks, bulges and other damage or deterioration on tire sidewalls. Discard any used tires with concerning sidewall damage.
Check the DOT date code on the sidewall. Avoid any used tires that are more than six years old. Tires degrade over time regardless of tread depth.
Prior Damage and Repairs
Inspect inside the tire for any plugs, patches and other repairs that indicate prior damage. Used damaged tires are not worth the safety risk.
When buying used, stick to major trustworthy brands like Michelin, Bridgestone, and Goodyear. Avoid obscure brands with no track record.
Carefully inspecting used tires before purchasing helps avoid safety issues and low-quality products. Take your time with this step.
Negotiate the Best Price
Used tire prices can vary significantly by shop. After inspecting the used tire places near me and verifying they are in good place, negotiate the best deal you can:
- Ask for a lower per-tire price if buying a complete set. Most shops will give you a discounted rate.
- Barter a lower price by pointing out tread depth, age or other factors. Debating pricing shows you did your homework.
- Ask if mounting/balancing or road hazard coverage can be included free or discounted. It never hurts to ask.
- Pay cash rather than credit if possible. Some independent shops offer 5-10% cash discounts.
Avoid high-pressure sales tactics, and don’t be afraid to walk out if you can’t get a fair used tire price. Patience pays when negotiating.
Have Tires Installed and Balanced
A professional shop should permanently install used tires you buy to ensure safety. Most tire shops will include installation and balancing for a small extra fee.
Proper mounting and balancing eliminates vibration and prevents tires from slipping off the rim at high speeds. Don’t try to install used tires yourself.
Ask About Road Hazard Warranties
Some used tire shops offer road hazard warranties for an additional charge. This protects against used tires being damaged by potholes, curbs and debris.
If you drive on rough roads or live in an area with frequent construction, paying extra for a road hazard warranty can give you helpful peace of mind.
Practice Safe Driving Habits
How you drive impacts used tire longevity and safety as much as tread depth and age. Practice good driving habits:
- Obey speed limits and avoid fast acceleration/braking
- Maintain proper tire pressure
- Get wheel alignments if the steering is off
- Rotate tires every 6,000-8,000 miles
- Inspect tires periodically for damage
- Avoid overloading vehicles with excess weight
Following these tips maximises the value you get from used tires.
Be Wary of Too-Good-To-Be-True Deals
Some disreputable used tire shops sell retreads or illegally repaired “frankentires” to unsuspecting customers. Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Stick to established shops with good reviews.
Inspecting tires closely before buying goes a long way towards avoiding issues. Still, it pays to be cautious with deeply discounted used tires.
Warning Signs of Bad Used Tires to Avoid
While used tires can provide significant savings, some are risky purchases. Be very wary of used tires displaying these warning signs:
- Generic or unknown brand – Only trust well-known major tire brands.
- Low tread depth under 3/32″ – Won’t last long before needing replacement.
- Damage inside tire – Bulges, embedded objects, plugs or patches.
- Sidewall cracks or dry rot – Rubber deteriorates over time. Avoid cracks.
- Feathering or cupped tread wear – Indicates prior suspension issues.
- Over 6 years old – Rubber breaks down over time regardless of tread.
- Mismatched tires – Sets should be the same brand, model, size, and tread depth.
- Cheap price – Quality used tires hold value. Deeply discounted ones may have serious issues.
- Sold “as-is” without warranty – Get road hazard protection at a minimum.
- Shady seller without facility – Higher risk something is wrong with tires.
- No paperwork on ownership history – Unverifiable past use and maintenance.
Getting the Best Deal on Used Tires
Patience pays off when negotiating used tire purchases. Follow these tips to get the best bargain:
- Shop late in the month – Salespeople have monthly quotas to hit and more flexibility with end-of-month deals.
- Buy a full set – Sellers offer bulk discounts of 5-15% off per tire when you buy four at once.
- Point out tread depth – Note they have less life left to justify a lower price.
- Offer to pay in cash – Some shops give 5-10% off for not using credit.
- Ask about including services – Mounting, balancing, disposal, road hazard warranty, etc.
- Compare pricing between shops – Leverage quotes from other sellers for bargaining power.
- Walk out if you’re unsatisfied – Be prepared to leave without a deal unless your terms are met.
- Avoid high-pressure tactics – Take your time. Homework allows you to buy smarter.
- Get promises in writing – Verbal agreements often evaporate after the sale.
With the right approach, there’s room for 10-20% discounts off fair used tire pricing. Weigh options carefully between savings and safety.
Signs a Used Tire Shop is Reputable
With used tires, the seller’s reputation matters as much as the tires’ condition. Look for these signs of professional used tire shops:
- Clean, organized facility – Indicates they value quality and service.
- Modern mounting equipment – Proper tools, balancers, and lifts ensure safe installations.
- Staff uniforms and name tags – Shows professionalism.
- Advertised warranties and road hazard policies – Even used tire shops should offer some protections.
- The primary business is tires – Not just an auto shop side hustle. Tires are their focus.
- Positive online reviews – Happy customers willing to recommend them.
- Licensing posted prominently – Required in most states to sell tires.
- BBB accreditation – Meets Better Business Bureau standards.
- Fair, consistent pricing – Prices should be based on condition and tread depth, not what they can get from you.
- No high-pressure tactics – Willing to let you inspect tires thoroughly and confer with others.
- Good recordkeeping – Can provide past service records on the used tires in stock.
Used tires can save you money if you buy smart. This in-depth guide teaches you how to inspect used tires shops, ask the right questions, negotiate pricing, avoid issues, and get thousands of safe extra miles. Tips for where to purchase used tires, expiration signs, maximizing longevity, commercial truck tires, and more.