If you own a car then it is inevitable that at some point you will have to purchase new tyres. When you go to buy them, you might be shocked at how expensive they are. Many people in similar situations turn to used tyres, since they are the less expensive alternative. Before you decide on used tyres, make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
In most European countries, the legal minimum tyre tread depth requirement for passenger cars is 1.6 mm. As an indicator to consumers, there are tread wear indicator bars, located in the main grooves of the tyre, that become level with the tread surface when it has a remaining depth of approximately 1.6 mm.
To ensure the best driving experience and optimum safety for all road users, we recommend passenger car and light truck tyres, in highway motor vehicle application, to be removed from service at tread depths deeper than the minimum, as follows:
These recommendations are based upon our testing. Our real-world experience has also shown us that drivers can better maintain the performance potential (e.g. wet grip) of their tyres by replacing them before they reach the legal minimum tread depth. This is particularly pertinent for winter tyres, for which driving properties such as snow traction, are significantly reduced at tread depths below 4 mm.
Just as you would when buying new tyres, do research about the used tyres you are going to purchase. Look at the specifications on the sidewall of your current tyres and find used tyres that match them. There are various letters that specify the type of vehicle the tyres can be fitted on and their speed rating. Familiarise yourself with the various codes, like P for "passenger vehicle" and LT for "light truck", used for both sport-utility and heavier vehicles. Most speed ratings on tyres specify top speeds that are well above the legal speed limits, so this should not be a problem. Tyre size codes are the same around the world, so you should have a wide array of options. You can also find this information in the vehicle handbook.
Once you find the type of tyre that you need, it is important to ask the seller several questions:
Once tyres are applied to a vehicle and put into service, they are considered “used”. There are risks associated with the purchase of used tyres. Their service history may be uncertain or unknown. Used tyres may have been exposed to improper service and may have damage that could eventually lead to a tyre disablement.
Not all tyre damage or conditions that can lead to a tyre disablement are easily detectable. For instance, improper repairs or damage to a tyre’s inner liner can only be observed through an inspection of the inside of the tyre, demounted from the wheel. A qualified service professional should inspect the internal and external condition of a used tyre prior to application.
When purchasing a used vehicle, the history of the tyres may also be unknown. The vehicle should be inspected by a tyre service professional, who should demount the part-worn tyres for internal inspection for the characteristics as recommended below.
For your safety and the safety of other drivers, do not purchase, sell or install used tyres that exhibit any of the following characteristics:
- localised tread wear
- unusual tyre noise, etc.
- “Not For Highway Use”
- “For Racing Purposes Only”
- “Agricultural Use Only”
- “SL” ("service limited" agricultural tyre) – or any other indication that the tyre is barred from use on public roads.