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Junkyard Tires - yay or nay?

I have in the past purchased tires from the junkyard without issue. Price is right and they last just fine. Son is looking for new tires - should I recommend junkyard tires to him or new? Interested in pros and cons.

If you can adequately explain the risks to him, and he has the driving skills and economic wherewithal to take care of possible unplanned issues with them, then go ahead. Odds of getting four matched tires is also not very good, if it is a requirement for his vehicle.

If he is a student traveling long distances or has a long commute, then I would be inclined to obtain new tires from a seller who can service his tires wherever he is.

New tires are preferable, after mounting and balancing, and not knowing what the used tire has been through as far as plugs, patches or unknown damage it is a safer bet. If you need to choose used try and get a warranty.

Tires are a safety issue. If you want the best for your son, he should drive on new tires.

No. Tires dry rot and can come apart at highway speeds

With all the above in mind, there really is nothing wrong with a junkyard tire. The biggest problem is getting a set.

Dry rot is fairly easy to spot…just lay them down and stand on them.

Wear is a given…shouldn’t be on this list.

Tire repairs are also easy to spot…just look inside for a patch - they never sell on the rim. No patch, no repairs.

Most people can look at a tire and tell if it looks fairly new or not. Tires from junk cars aren’t there because the tire failed, rather because there was an idiot at the wheel, and he/she failed to drive with the appropriate level of care required. In America, the vast majority seem to think driving is a right, rather than a privilege. In Europe, they know different, but never mind.

It can save some money, but you’d have to be careful and see just how much of a savings it really is. You can get a decent set (4) of tires at someplace like CostCo for well under $400. While that’s far from cheap, it’s not that much more than a junk yard set (the price almost never includes mounting, balancing, tire valves, etc). If you’re not a member, find a friend who is.

As Whitey said, it very much IS a safety issue. While there may be nothing wrong with the tires, there’s also no warranty with them. Granted, AAA will get him safe, but if he can’t afford new tires, can he afford AAA?

Hopefully these are a few things to think about, and not a waste of time for you (or your son).

Good luck!

I would never buy used tires, you have no way of knowing what junkyard tires have been exposed or how they were previously used or what they’ve been through. The only pro here is that you save a few bucks. Therea are plenty of car parts that are okay to purchased used; a used power window regulator? sure, a used windshield washer bottle? fine, used brakes? Nope, used tires? no thanks.

I’ve used them on occasion over the years with no problem but it depends on a few things.
The price as compared to an identical new tire, tread depth, and the biggest issue of whether there is any dry rot at all. Any dry rot means absolutely no way.

The problem (at least around here) is that it seems many used tire sellers are bumping the prices through the roof on tires that should be run through a shredder instead.
(A tire with mild dry rot and less than 1/8" of tread for 20-30 bucks and not even including the mounting and balancing? Not.)

When I was younger, this is how I got my tires. There’s nothing wrong with doing this as long as you can find a good set. Some caveats:

-Finding a matched set is hard. If the car, including the tires was in great shape, it wouldn’t be in the junkyard.

-Make sure you know what you need, including the exact size you need.

-Often the donor car will have bad alignment, which has made the tires wear unevenly. This may not be noticeable until the tires are mounted on your car, at which point you will find you have a tire that has a pull or is very hard to keep balanced.

-The tire may have a bad belt or other unseen defect, such a a flat spot, especially if the car it was from was in an accident.

-Obviously you have no warranty or recourse if the tire fails, other than the junkyard’s replacement policy.

If the price is right, go for it I suppose. But if you’re only saving $100 on a set of tires, it’s hardly worth doing in my opinion.

Problems with used tires:

  • Old tires: Tires with dry rot are certainly easy to spot, but tires can be too old and unsuitable for use and still not show anything that indicates this - excpet the date code.
  • Abused tires: Repaired and punctured tires should be eliminated, but you can’t always tell if a tire has been cronically underinflated.

The problem here is that you need some expertise to avoid the problem tires - and most folks that have the expertise, also have enough money to buy new. Ergo, the guys you have the least amount of knowledge are the most likely to buy used tires and they are going to suffer the consequences.

Thanks everyone - I didn’t think about the matched set. Not going to get that at the junkyard. Very good points made and I thank you for your time!

In my opinion people get awful carried away with there replies. The answer is simple to me. Tires are tires look them over good. Check for said dry rot its easy to see. you may find great safe tires at the junk yard. Look them over

I’ve gotten a complete set of new tires from a U-PULL yard. The tires still had the rubber nubbins on them. The price per tire was $15.00 with the wheel.

Sometimes you can find a good set of tires on a vehicle that just had the tires replaced before it was totalled.


My view is only slightly different than the opinions here. One does not buy junkyard tires just to save money. If you have the money for new tires, get new tires. Junkyard tires are for those who are financially distraught and have no choice. When you are poor, life is cruel, and having to risk junkyard tires is one cruel part of being poor. Been there; done that, and I prefer not to be poor, thanks. Which is why I stuck to a boring, boring job for 31 years, instead of wandering around to find myself.

Some things you can save money on just to save money on them. For example, Vicks Vaporub™ costs a bit more than the Equate at W*****t, but you probably can’t tell the difference. People who can afford to buy the brand name product can reasonably buy the brand X without apology just to save a few cents.

But, no one should buy junkyard tires just to save a little, if they can come up with the money without committing crimes to get it.

financially distraugh? How about "Thrifty

No, I meant financially distraught, and my point was I do not believe anyone should buy junkyard tires just because they are “thrifty”. Of course, you can, but the rest of us can also think anyone who risks junkyard tires out of a desire to be thrifty is at least two bubbles out of level.

Of course, in Alaska, if you are mostly driving on the Haul Road, why not? You are not going to be driving 70 mph for the most part. If another tire blows out, you pull off and wait three days for someone to come along. (Just joking, I know it’s not that bad.)

Depends on the various factors involved.

If it was a late model car that was destroyed in an accident, like a load of bricks landing on top of the roof, then yes.

I would also look at the DOT date stamp on each tire to determine when the tire was produced, and not buy anything that was older than 4 years.

People wreck new cars with new wheels and tires on them all the time.
Doesn’t make the tires bad.


If you’re so financially distraught that you’re hitting up junkyards for used tires, then automobile ownership may not be for you.

Buying used tires because you are thrifty is penny wise and pound foolish. Sure, the tires themselves may be cheaper, but when you consider that you have to buy them more often, and pay for mounting and balancing each time, is it really cheaper per mile? I don’t believe so. Then consider the lack of warranty and road hazard protection, and you will find the cost of repairing and replacing those tires adds up over time.

Buying new tires for my car hits me with a case of sticker shock each time, but when you consider the fact that I pay up front for road hazard protection and lifetime balance-and-rotate service, amortizing the cost over the life of the tires shows a lower per-mile cost.