Click for Coverage
  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler
Subscribe to the Free

Getting Tires On The Cheap - Buying Used

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on November 4, 2013
Share this

One of the biggest investments you’ll make for your 4x4 is purchasing tires. As your taste and want for taller tires grows, so will the price of the oversized cleats. Sure, if you have the coin to buy a new set of rubber, we say go for it. For those on a tighter budget, we suggest you consider buying your next set of tires used. Before you stand tall and say that you would never ride on a used tire, think about it like this. If you purchased your car “pre-owned” (aka used), then you likely got used tires. Ever driven a rental car? Do you think they put on a brand new set of treads just for you? Ha!

You get the point. Not all used tires are junk. This is especially true in our hobby. Unlike other motorsports where competition tires can only last a few heat cycles, an average mud-terrain can survive years of off-road use and still be in fairly good shape. The key to buying a used set of tires is knowing what you are looking at, and more to the point, what you are watching out for. In this edition of Buying Used, we’re serving you with the key tips you need to know when buying second-hand rubber.

Next month, will continue our Buying Used column with what to look for when purchasing a used wheel.

A. Be sure to check the load range and weight rating of the tire. You want to make certain that the tire is capable of supporting your rig.

B. Check for an even wear pattern. Choppy or uneven lugs are a recipe for a loud, and most likely, poor handling tire.

C. Assuming you are looking for a complete set, make sure all are accounted for and match. Mismatched tire sizing can create poor handling and wreak havoc on full-time 4x4 vehicles and rigs equipped with automatic lockers.

D. In some cases, tread depth can be difficult to gauge. Sure, you can do the old coin trick to get an idea, or we suggest spending a few dollars (most can be had under $10) on a tread-depth gauge. A tread-depth gauge measures tread depth in 32nds of an inch. This number will be more helpful to you if you do your homework beforehand and can compare your reading to the manufacturer’s original specs. In most states, a tire is considered legally “worn out” at 2⁄32--inch.

E. Examine the inside of the tire carefully. You are looking for patches, plugs, and any signs of deteriotation. Sidewall plugs and patches are a giant red flag and we would walk away. A plug or two in the tread isn't a huge deal if done correctly, so we wouldn't let that be a deal breaker.

F. Look closely for gouges, bubbles, and exposed belts on the outside of the tires. Small cuts are common on a tire that has been wheeled, as are rounded leading edges. Get your hands dirty and really examine the tires. A small slit in the sidewall can lead to big problems later. Also, a bubble on the outside is usually the sign of a busted belt, making the tire not worth installing on the vehicle.

G. Since the year 2000 all tires have a four-date code stamped on the sidewall. The frst two digits are the week; the second two represent the year. Check the date while examining if the tire appears to be dry rotted. The older the tire, the greater the chance that it could be dried out and useless. A dry rotted tire may look new at frst glance, but upon closer inspection you will be able to see the bevy of cracks.

H. Check the bead closely! It only takes one quick mistake on a tire machine to rip or tear a chunk out of a bead. Any bead damage is a problem.

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results