Used tires cost can vary from $25-$160, usually 30-50% of the price of a new tire of the same model. This number greatly depends on a range of factors, so you may get the same type of used tire for $50 or $90.

What Used Tire Cost Depends On

The main factors are:

  • Initial price
  • Type of tire
  • Tread left
  • Age
  • The number of tires you buy.

Initial Price

Used tires cost is firstly determined by the initial price of the tire. So, a perfect used Michelin Energy MXV4 S8 that initially costs over $300 won’t be $30. This is an important point to consider when choosing a used tire, especially with the promised price rise of 2017.

Type of Tire

It’s much cheaper to buy a regular all-season tire than a high-performance or winter one. Performance tires are initially expensive, as they provide a good grip and improve steering. Snow tires have special rubber compounds that keep them soft enough to perform well in extreme conditions. The material of such tires also wears more rapidly, therefore, it may be more difficult to find a good pre-mounted tire. For example, Pirelli P ZERO High Performance costs $197 new, but a used tires cost is as much as $122 on Amazon.

Tread Left

Used tires can have up to 10/32 tread left and up to 99% of tread life, but it is considered safe to buy tires that are no less than 5/32. If you need a tire for several hundred miles or you want to resell your car, it’s alright to purchase a second-hand tire with 4/32 tread left. With the legal minimum of 2/32, 4/32 is considered the depth at which you should start searching for a new tire or a set.

Tire tread depth tests
Tire tread depth tests. Image source: tirebuyer.com

Age

A tire can be safely operable for up to 10 years. However, the older the tire is, the more deterioration is occurring, so the less the used tires cost should be. Rubber loses its resilience and starts to crack, so be careful when buying items that are 8 years old or more. The safest option is to buy used tires that are less than 6 years old. To determine the age of the tire, you should learn how to read date code that is present on every tire’s sidewall.

The Number of Tires

Both online and brick-and-mortar shops create special offers to attract more clients. As a result, you can get a discount for buying two used tires or a full set. The discount is usually no more than 10%, but it’s still a money-saving option.

Additional Used Tires Cost

Aside from the actual price, you will have to spend money on delivery, mounting and balancing.

Delivery

Some services provide free delivery to all offers, or just for particular items. There are also services that deliver nationwide for free, but you will have to pay a fee if you order from another country. Another option is that you have to order items for $25 or $100, for example, to get a free delivery. This is only concerning online services, so if you buy from a local tire dealer and need your tires to be transported, you should check with the dealer.

Mounting and Balancing

Tire balancing machine
Tire balancing machine. Image source: rpmcarcare.com

Installing and balancing used tires cost about $40 on average. Depending on the facility, the type of tire, and the services provided, the price may vary from $15 to $75. Besides, not all auto shops will mount second-hand tires for you, as some only deal with new tires, and others may only install the tires people buy from them. So, instead of going to nationwide chain tire shops, it’s better to choose local repair centers, oil change and gas stations, etc. Local businesses will also help you save some money, as they usually have lower prices.

The service usually includes:

  • Removing current tires
  • Mounting the tires you provide
  • Inflating them to the right pressure
  • High-speed balancing.

The whole process may take up to an hour, if you get 4 tires installed.

Places to Buy Used Tires

You can purchase second-hand tires at:

  • Brick-and-mortar auto shops
  • Online marketplaces
  • Specialized online stores.

All options have their own benefits and additional services included.

Brick-And-Mortar Auto Shops

A considerable advantage of any brick-and-mortar store is that you can inspect the tires right away, check them for uneven wear, patches, plugs, other damage and repairs, etc. Another advantage is that you don’t have to wait until the seller delivers the tire to you. Plus, some shops also offer additional services like mounting and balancing the tires for free if you buy tires from them.

A disadvantage of tire shops is that you may not find a particular tire there, as the range may be quite limited.

Online Marketplaces

Online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Craiglist offer a wider range of options to choose from. You can find convenient comparisons and read about the tread, age, and other characteristics of any used tire. The main advantage of such marketplaces is that you can find different offers of the same model of tire, with different amounts of tread, and so, different used tires cost. Sellers often offer free shipping and convenient discounts, so you can find a deal that will meet your needs.

Goodyear Eagle used tire offers on Amazon.
Goodyear Eagle used tire offers on Amazon.

Disadvantages include scammers who ship you a tire with internal damage or other issues. You may also have to pay for delivery and wait until your order is shipped. Plus, you often need a credit card and/or a PayPal account to shop online.

Specialized Online Stores

Some web-based stores are tire-specialized, others sell new and used car parts, along with used tires. Their main advantage is that the companies choose the parts to sell themselves, so the chances that you will get a damaged tire are lower. Also, there are many options to consider, as some services allow you to find the needed category by filling in the necessary size or/and some vehicle information. You can also get free shipping and beneficial discounts if available.

Tire search form on Utires.com
Used tire search form on Utires.com

Disadvantages are the same for all online payments: the need for a credit card and the time you have to wait.

Things to Look for When Buying Used Tires

Aside from used tires cost, you should pay attention to the following things:

  • Date code
  • UTQG rate
  • Tread depth
  • Uneven treadwear
  • Damages and repairs
  • Recall number.

Date Code

A date code on a tire
A date code on a tire

To check the age of a tire, read the date code that’s located after DOT, which consists of a four-digit number. The first number pair is the week, the second is the year; so 3212 will mean the 32nd week of 2012. Don’t buy tires that are more than 8-10 years old, even if they look good. The rubber starts deteriorating rapidly when the tire turns 5-6 years old, but a well-maintained item can be used until it’s 10.

UTQG Rate

This is the Uniform Tire Quality Grading that shows you the rate of:

  • Treadwear.
    Treadwear is marked with a number: 100 is standard, 200 is twice more, 80 is 20% less, and so on. This grading means that, for example, a tire with the 200 index is expected to last twice as much as the standard.
  • UTQG location on a tire sidewallTraction.
    Traction is graded with a letter(s): AA, A, B, C, where AA gives the best grip and braking on wet surfaces.
  • Temperature resistance.
    Temperature resistance is also graded with a letter: A, B, or C. A means the tire won’t overheat at speeds higher than 115 mph. B means there will be no overheat at 100-115 mph; C-graded tires will hold at 85-100 mph.

Tread Depth

One of the factors that influences used tires cost is tread depth. It has to be at least 4/32. You can check it in a number of ways:

A tread depth gauge in use.
A tread depth gauge in use.
  • A penny test.
    Insert a penny with Lincoln’s head upside down into a tread groove. If the head is almost all over the tread, there’s not much mileage left.
  • A tread depth gauge.
    A tool that costs about $5 can help you get the best tread life for the given used tires cost. It’s designed specifically for measuring the precise amount of tread left.
  • A treadwear indicator.
    Every tire has a special bar in the grooves that aren’t visible when the tire is new. They are put at the 2/32 height (the legal minimum tread), so the better you can see it, the less tread is left.

To know more about used tire tread depth, read this article.

Uneven Treadwear

There are certain uneven treadwear patterns to look for, which are caused by different issues. Uneven treadwear may be a sign that the tire was over- or under-inflated, internally damaged, or imbalanced. The car might have been overloaded, ridden at excessively high speeds, or the wheels might have been misaligned. It’s important for a buyer to know about such things, as if a tire has even slight uneven wear, it will work for much less time and the wear pattern will remain.

Damages and Repairs

The tread, bead, or sidewall of the tire may have damage that will soon make it inoperable. Bulges can indicate internal damage that is usually impossible to detect, and wire exposure may mean the tread can separate from the tire. Slight cuts may widen and cause tire failure, while plugs may cause air loss and tire blowout. There is other damage that can seem harmless but can ruin the tire.

Repairs have to be done professionally, as not all issues can be fixed. Patches can allow air loss, which will cause problems with air pressure, so it’s recommended to buy second-hand tires without repairs.

 

Recall Number

The tire may be within a consignment that was recalled. As the registration isn’t changed after the owner sells the tire, a shop or a dealer may be unaware of the recall. Tires are usually recalled because of manufacture defects that may become dangerous. You can check whether the tire was recalled with the help of the RMA database.

Tire recall lookup service run by RMA

Buying Pre-Mounted Tires: Safe or Unsafe?

Second-hand tires are safe if you choose them wisely and cooperate with a decent seller. In brief, you can buy tires that cost $1000 for a set in new condition for $200-$300 if you find a good deal.

There are certain benefits that suggest purchasing pre-mounted tires is good:

  • It saves you money
  • You help the environment
  • The tires can be of great quality.

On the other hand, there are convincible reasons not to buy second-hand tires:

  • There may be unnoticed damage
  • There’s usually no warranty
  • The rubber can be deteriorating rapidly.

Nevertheless, about 30 million used tires are sold in the US every year, with some of them having up to 90% tread left. Buying a used tire with so much tread, for 50% of its original price, is a very good deal.