Used tires

I am considering buying used tires, the reason being new ones cost a fortune and I drive so little, I expect UV degradation will kill them long before the tread wears out. I know what to steer clear of on visual inspection eg uneven wear pattern, repair plugs, impact damage to sidewall etc. Anything else other than a price too good (low) to be true? I’m also thinking about acquiring wheels and tires together but I guess this will be problematic for the inspection of the inside wall. So far not having much luck - there’s just nothing out there my size (Suburban) within driving distance, albeit in this economy I’m not surprised. PS I would never consider buying sight unseen as I have read too many horror stories in this regard.

I have often run across some good deals at salvage yards. They sell the tires mounted on the rims and with a Suburban there is a good chance that a pickup or van with identical size wheels has been junked.

A friend of mine recently bought some, the remaining mileage and price seemed to be reasonable. If you are going to keep the car a long time, go new, if 25% of tread life will get you to the selling point of your car go used. It seems to work out about even if you plan on keeping the car for another 60k, and at even the new tires are less potential risk for the same long term cost.

Rod Knox is right, this should be a pretty easy find at any salvage yard. Tires don’t have to be from a Suburban, either. Just determine an acceptable tire size (e.g., P2xx/xx Rxx) and find a matching set. Don’t mix sizes or brands. The tire sizes on the Suburban should be similar to the full size GM trucks, so there should be a million around. If you buy a whole set of wheels and tires, just make sure you get the right lug pattern (if it’s a 1500, 2wd uses 5 lug, 4wd uses 6 lug…I think) and the rest of the above applies. You can find a set that fits in steel, aluminum, etc.

I know that Tire Warehouse in our area keeps turn in tires, inspects them and resells them for just such usage as yours. I personally would look for some used All Terrain tires. They may be turned in earlier then all seasons because of their use with more age and tread life left.

There is a vast underground business where used tires are collected by Mexican entrepreneurs and exported to Mexico where they sell for $35-$45 each…The employees at the big U.S. tire stores get first pick of course but after that, they rather sell them by the truckload and be done with them…That’s after collecting a $5 per tire “disposal fee” from the customer who just bought a set of new tires because one of them went flat and he had AWD…"Muchos Gracias Gringo! Muy buena llantas!

No one has mentioned how old used tires can be Many people selling used tires either don’t know or conveniently ignore the age of their tires for sale.

Recent bulletins from the tire industry indicate that tires degrade simply due to time. The age of a tire is important even if the tire is unused. There some disagreement over how to best express this age limitation, but my take is:

If you live in a hot climate (AZ, CA, NV, TX, and FL) then the limit is six years. If you live in a cold climate (MN, ND, WI, MT, etc), then the limit is 10 years. States in between are … ah … in between.

The date of manufacture is molded in every tire. Here’s how to decode the whole serial number:

Buy with the end in mind. Don’t buy tires that are going to get old in a few years.

Since you drive so little, I’d suggest getting the most inexpensive new tires you can find. The problem with used tires is

  1. age, and
  2. you don’t know what they’ve been subjected to. If they’ve been slammed against a granite curb from sliding on ice, if they’ve been driven on for a lenghty period while very low in pressure, or even of they’ve been slammed into a huge pothole at speed, they could have internal damage that can’t be seen.

Tires are a critical safety item. Since you drive so little, your amortized cost is paltry. One set of new inexpensive tires could last for years.

I am amused by the 6 year lifespan of tires. My 1978 international cub cadet riding mower still has the original tires as does my 1972 Ariens snowblower.

I’m inclined to think that a 6 year lifespan is way too conservative, as I’d expect the tire industrie’s estimate to be. But I also recognize that they have to cover Death Valley conditions as well as NH conditions. 6 years in intense sun just might take more of a toll that i’m used to seeing.

Thanks respondents! Again I’m just trying to determine the economics of used versus new but safety is an overarching concern. I’m in Canada so I’m dealing with a fair sized range of temperatures but it’s UV radiation that I’m told is the second biggest cause of tire degradation apart from physical use. I plan to keep the truck until it is either beyond economical repair, I can no longer afford the gas or the damned government legislates me off the road due to more stringent emissions requirements. At the present rate of mileage accumulation I will be lucky to add more than 30 or 40 thousand miles over the next ten years and that will only bring me to about 200 thousand total (truck is a 94 model). I don’t know, apart from currency differentials, how tire prices differ between Canada and the US but I did get a quote from Speedy for basic tires at just under $900 balanced and installed including taxes and environmental fees. Seems rich though when I could have bought a decent looking set of premium seconds on nice newer GM wheels a couple of summers ago at an auto flea market for the same price…

@oldtimer ,

55MPH generates excessive heat and forces in a comprimised tire and is quite dangerous when the tire blows apart.

At 4mph your yard equipment has no real stress on old tires. If it blows bummer but no danger.

A four or six ply Nylon bias tire will last almost forever…The cords were vulcanized right into the structure of the tire, the Nylon and rubber fusing into a single unit of great strength and longevity…

But modern radials have a light-weight one or perhaps two ply polyester sidewall strapped together by a steel belt or two…This is where the problem arises…It is VERY difficult to get rubber to bond to the steel belt material. Tread separation and ply separation have been fairly common over the years…Tire manufacturers have used various methods to secure this bond and keep the tire in one piece…The most common method is to coat the steel cords with a special resin that bonds to both steel and rubber fairly well and maintains tire integrity…But this bond can not be trusted to last forever and therefore tires now have a date code beyond which they are deemed unserviceable…

I’m sorry, Caddyman, but you have that incredibly wrong.

The failure mechanism on radial tires is the properties of the rubber compound between the 2 belts, not the adhesion between the steel and the rubber. That is the most highly stressed area of the tire and as the tire ages, the compound weakens and eventually fails. Heat accelerates the process, as does excessive loading or underinflation.

Frequently, the tread will peel right off the tire when it’s bond to the underlying steel belt is lost…In many “performance” tires, a Nylon belt is added to improve the bond in this critical area…

Caddyman, just so we are clear:

The nylon cap ply reduces the affect centrigual forces have - particularly on the belt edges. That reduces the stress level. The cap ply also acts like a band-aid by providing a restriction to the belt lifting once a belt separation starts. In other words, it reduces the risk that the tread and belt will be thrown off. It does nothing to promote adhesion.

To Raj I wasn’t suggesting that people drive with 1972 tires on their cars, just that a 6 year lifespan seems very conservative to me. After all, when our cars get 6 years old we don’t go out and buy new spares do we?

When I first started driving we were still driving cars of the 40s,30s and even sometimes 20s. Blowouts were a regular occurrence and considered something you should be able to handle. Just keep your foot on the gas until you are sure you have control and then ease off and let the friction of the blown tire slow you until you get below 40 , then gently brake to a stop.

Note that the 6 year figure CapriRacer mentioned only applies to the hottest climates.

I have a 1-ton Dodge flatbed truck equipped with 10 ply (bias) Nylon tires that I purchased new 18 years ago. It is used to haul water in Sonora, Mexico, one of the hottest places in North America…So far, the tires have been trouble-free…

Back when I was young & broke I used to get my tires from a friend who crushed cars for a living. I’m sure most those cars sat in tree groves, etc. for some years after being taken off the road. Even though the tires would look nearly new with plenty of tread depth left, it seems like they wore out in no time! Then it was time to go back to visit the crusher again. :slight_smile: