The Art of Purchasing Used Tires Everybody wants a bargain, so the first step in buying used tires is determining your bargain. In other words, spend a little time searching online retailers and local retailer websites in an attempt to determine the right tire for your vehicle. There are many factors to consider when choosing a tire that are well beyond the scope of this article, but once you have chosen the right tire type, note a realistic ballpark retail price and … keep on reading! Items to consider; requirements to establish: Laws Tread life Warranty Tread pattern o Winter (Noise, Snow, Ice, Highway, Stud-able etc.) o All Season (Touring, Noise, Fuel Consumption, Dry/Wet Performance etc.) Speed and load rating Finding your vehicle’s tire size PLEASE read your owner’s manual. It is full of useful information – including your tire size. Your vehicle will also have a tire placard (see Figure 1). Usually the placard is on the driver’s door jamb or under the gas cap cover. Figure 1 Typical tire placard Most common place to look for used tires Local online classified ads such as: Kijiji Craigslist How to search for tires on these sites Always search by tire size, if you drive a Hyundai Accent with P175/70R13 tires, do not search for: “Hyundai Accent tires”. Instead type “ P175/70R13” into the search window. Many vehicles share the same tire sizes, don’t miss out. Sort through the results to find tires that meet your established requirements in terms of tread pattern, etc. Below is an example of what you might find. The ad states: FIRESTONE WINTERFORCE P175/70R13 1 SEASON ONLY !!!!!!!!! I SCRAP MY CAR AND TAKE TOO MUCH PLACE SO CALL ME IS NEGOTIABLE ! IN VERY VERY GOOD CONDITION AND VERY GOOD ON ICE AND SNOW. SAWN XXX-XXX-XXXX OR TEXT http://montreal.kijiji.ca/c-autos-et-vehicules-pieces-auto-pneus-pneus-jantes-FIRESTONEWINTERFORCE-P175-70R13-1-SEASON-ONLY-W0QQAdIdZ445026436 The asking price for these 4 tires is $150 private sale – so taxes are not applicable. Choosing alternative tire sizes Note: different tire diameters require different size rims. Different tire width may require different size rims. You may be tempted to install different size tires on your vehicle. As a general rule, do not install a different size tire unless explicitly listed by the manufacturer as a viable option. Figure 1 shows that P175/70R13 and P185/60R14 are both viable options for this vehicle. When in doubt, you may go to: http://www.1010tires.com/Tools/Tire-Size-Calculator to determine if two tire sizes are similar enough to allow for trouble free operation (assuming they fit over your brake and steering components). Figure 2 shows a screenshot obtained by using the tire size calculator found at 1010tires.com. Figure 2 Tire size calculator The calculator shows that the two suggested tire sizes have a diameter variance of 0.42%. This example should allow you to appreciate the importance of selecting the right size tire for your vehicle. Determining new tire tread depth Tire tread depth is commonly measured in 32nds of an inch. You will need to browse around. Not all websites will offer this information, but it is out there. Figure 3 shows a screenshot from tirerack.com for the tires found in the ad. Figure 3 Firestone Winterforce Tire specifications Above we can note that the new tire tread depth is 12/32nds of an inch. Evaluating a used tire – Price Using the same site as you found the original tire tread depth, in this case tirerack.com, obtain a realistic price for the specific tire in question. Figure 4 below shows that I can realistically expect to purchase 4 Firestone Winterforce tires for $321.76 + tx in Montreal Quebec. Note: If this price differs significantly from the prices obtained when doing your initial research, compare to another retailer for the specific tire. Figure 4 Winterforce tire costing These are the same tires as in the ad. Calculate the percentage in savings Formula = (New-Old)/New Refer to Figure 4 above New Tires New tire = 321.76+15% (quick estimate for sales tax in Quebec) = 321.76+48.15= 369.15 New tire = 369.15/4 = 92.29 Note: Tires in Quebec are also subject to a $3 recycling fee at the time of purchase (not included). Used tires 150/4 = $37.5, exempt from sales tax Percentage saving – buying used VS buying new (92.29 – 36.5)/92.29 = 61% Assessing tire condition Remaining tread on the tire Often the seller will supply the remaining tread on the tire; it is your responsibility to know its significance. Legally in Quebec, a winter tire must have a minimum of 1.6mm1, rounded to 3/32nds, of tread. You should subtract this number from the starting tread depth researched earlier. Note: although 3/32 is the strict legal minimum, a tire is commonly considered worn out at 4/32. A garage may refuse to install a tire that is at 4/32 or less tread depth. Recall we found that the new tire has a tread depth of 12/32nds. 12/32 – 3/32 = 9/32 Therefore the 175/70R13 Firestone Winterforce tire has 9/32 of usefull tread during its usefull lifetime. 1 http://www.mtq.gouv.qc.ca/portal/page/portal/grand_public_en/vehicules_promenade/securite_routiere/securit e_conditions_hivernales/reglement_utilisation_pneus_hiver Final checks The age of the tire Do not purchase a tire that is over 5 years old. The tire begins to crack and the rubber deteriorates. Conflicting information is available but one reliable source, Cooper tires, recommends discarding a tire that is over 10 years old, period2. Figure 5 Tire sidewall When looking at a tire sidewall, look for the DOT marking. These will be embedded in the rubber on one side only of the tire. The last four numbers indicate when the tire was manufactured. The tire in Figure 5 was manufactured in the 26th week of 2010. Measuring tread depth You will need a tire tread depth gauge. Figure 6 Tire tread depth gauge Do not use a piece of change or a ruler to try to establish a rule of thumb. The industry has adopted this method of measuring for a reason. The tool is worth $3.99 at Canadian Tire. 2 http://ca.coopertire.com/CooperTiresConsumer/media/Documents/Service_Bulletin_112.pdf Measure the tread depth of the tire(s) you are thinking of purchasing. Figure 7 Tread depth gauge on tire Figure 8 Reading tread depth on gauge The measured tread depth is between 7/32nds and 8/32nds, let’s just say it’s at 7 for argument sake. Recall that the Firestone Winterforce tire has 9/32 of usefull tread. Calculate the remaining tread wear of the tire in percentage. Formula =1- (New-Old)/New 1- (9-7)/7 = 78% Decision time In this particular case with the Firestone Winterforce tires, we would be paying 61% less for a tire that still has 78% of its useful life remaining. A good deal. As a rule of thumb, if the two percentages sum to more than 100%, you are making a good purchase. If the two percentages sum to 1, you are breaking even and should buy new to get the warranty. In this particular case, we are actually 39% better off buying used tires when only cost is calculated. There just isn’t any warranty against defects.
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