New car tires can be expensive, and yet all drivers should know that having good tires is absolutely essential to maintaining a vehicle that’s safe to drive, comfortable and fuel efficient. So how can you balance out quality and price? The good news is that there are many used car tires for sale that have thousands of miles left on their lifespan. The trick is to make sure you know how to properly assess discount car tires to make sure they’ll serve you well. Here are the red flags you’ll want to look out for:
- Shallow Tread Depth
You should never be driving on tires with a tread depth of less than 2/32 of an inch; if you drive with challenging road conditions (rain, ice, snow, etc.), then 4/32 of an inch is a safer choice. You can use the good old “penny test” to measure tread depth without any special tools — just insert an upside-down penny into the tread. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered, the tread should be deep enough to be safe.
- Uneven Wear
You need to look at not only the extent of wear, but also the pattern of wear. If the wear is more severe on some parts of the tire than others, that means the tire wasn’t rotated often enough and probably isn’t a good buy.
- Knots, Bumps or Bulges
Any sort of malformation indicates that the cords, ply or treads are separating from the casing. This is a very, very bad sign. Run, don’t walk, away from these tires.
- Punctures or Patches
There should be no visible punctures, and patches need to have been applied from the inside. You shouldn’t buy a used tire that has been repaired in the tread shoulder, bead area, belt edge or sidewall, even if the repair looks to be well done.
- No Tire Info
Never buy a tire that doesn’t have its identification information visibly located on the sidewall. Without this information, you won’t be able to look up the tire and make sure it isn’t subject to a safety recall or otherwise problematic.
Do you have any tips to share on buying discount car tires, either new or used? Join the discussion in the comments below.