ARE SECOND-HAND TYRES SAFE TO BUY?
Although tyre dealers generally advise against buying used tyres, the fact is, if you purchase a second-hand vehicle you’re essentially purchasing second-hand tyres.
The difference, however, between buying used tyres on a vehicle versus used tyres that are sold separately, is that you’re able to test drive the vehicle beforehand and should get a sense of how the tyres’ perform.
In contrast, purchasing used tyres separately can expose you to substantial risk. Here are several things to keep in mind if you’re shopping in the used-tyre market.
In most cases, uniform tread wear is easy to gauge, however, certain wear patterns such as ‘flat spots’ and ‘heel-and-toe’ wear, are not that obvious.
That said, if a tyre is worn unevenly, it’s often due to an underlying problem with the previous vehicle’s suspension, steering, wheel balancing, and/or tyre rotation. Or, it’s simply due to poor driving habits from the previous owner.
Unfortunately, the above-mentioned problems are often difficult (if not impossible) to fix once they are established. For example: A tyre that has worn unevenly due to poor-performing shock-absorbers will drive badly no matter how many times you try to balance it.
Previous impact damage is a significant risk if you’re purchasing second-hand tyres. This is because the damage itself may only present itself several weeks or months later.
A typical radial tyre is constructed with layers of nylon, steel, and rubber; the challenge in any tyre-manufacturing process is trying to get those elements to bond together, strongly!
Unfortunately, a sudden shock or impact force to a tyre’s sidewall or tread belt can weaken this bond without showing any immediate / obvious damage.
Sadly, as the tyre is exposed to load and centrifugal forces, that bond may continue to weaken and suddenly present itself as a catastrophic carcass failure at high speeds.
Tyres are flexible components that mould to the contours of the road. However, that same flexibility applies to wheel imperfections in the form of small dents, warping, and/or a buckled rim.
In these cases the tyre may mould itself to fill these imperfections, and, if left for a prolonged period, cannot be corrected. To make matters worse, the problem is often invisible to the naked eye.
Provided the job was done correctly, there’s nothing wrong with a professionally repaired puncture. The problem, however, lies in any attempt to fix a tyre’s sidewall.
Given that a tyre’s sidewall flexes at ultra high speeds and forces, no attempt should be made to repair a sidewall puncture. If a tyre has sustained sidewall penetration it should be scrapped for safety’s sake.
You should be able to see signs of repair work if you look inside the tyre. Of course, if you’re buying second-hand wheels and tyres together, an internal inspection may not be possible.
DATE OF MANUFACTURE
Lastly, you should always look at a tyre’s manufacturing date. You’ll find this number stamped on the tyre’s sidewall. We cover more on this topic here.
For the reasons mentioned above, second-hand tyre purchases are generally not advised, but ultimately, it will depend on who you’re purchasing the tyres from, and whether you trust them. But for the most part, not knowing a tyre’s history is a lot like not knowing the maintenance history of a used vehicle, where, you’re buying on faith and hope alone.