Know what to look for when buying used tires


Used tire sales are big business in Arizona, many on the road still have lots of life left in them. But others are in bad shape, downright dangerous, and never should have been sold at all.

If you can buy new tires, that's always your best bet, but if finances are tight and you're considering used tires, you can't show up at the store and not know what to look for. You've got to know which used tires are worth buying and which you need to steer clear of - regardless of the price.

Kenn Kemper's vintage El Camino is a bit of a drain on his wallet. When it needed tires, he decided on a used set from Joe's Guaranteed Used Tires and Rims in Phoenix. Kemper says the owner told him he was getting a good deal: four tires for $130.

"They're almost brand new, but they've got good tread, they're in really good shape," Kemper said.

Over the next month, three of the tires went flat and Joe's Guaranteed Used Tires and Rims replaced them. When Kemper saw a split in a fourth tire, he brought the El Camino into a Pep Boys.

"All four of the tires are bad, they have dry rot, they're a road hazard, and the spare is about 10 years old," Kemper said.

Like a lot of consumers, Kemper didn't know a lot about used tires, now he has a checklist.

"You have to look at more than just the size of tread, because these tires all have really good tread on them, but you have to look at the sidewall," Kemper said.

Cracking on the sidewall is easy to spot, so is dry rot. Separation is a major red flag as well. And regardless of what a used tire looks like, never buy one that is more than 6 years old. You can find its age by looking for a four-digit number placed on every tire. The first two digits are the week it was made; the last two digits are the year. So, the number 1804 means the tire was made the 18th week of 2004. It's also a good idea to enlist a tire expert for help before buying.

"Take somebody with you, because you might have a good set of used tires, but you really have to know what to look for," Kemper said.

Always look for the tire's birthdate and check it for cracking and dry rot before purchasing.

After four tires went flat, Kemper says he asked Joe's Guaranteed Used Tires and Rims for a refund of his $130 but couldn't get a response. When CBS 5 News asked, the owner agreed right away and gave Kemper a check for $130. CBS 5 News wants to thank Joe's Guaranteed Used Tires and Rims for resolving this matter so quickly after we brought it to their attention.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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