JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Officials in tire shops throughout Region 8 said Tuesday more people are interested in purchasing used tires rather than spending more money on new tires. According to Rich Rothwell at Firestone, more people have expressed interest in used tires in recent months.
"There tends to be more people going down to the limitations of the tire nowadays, whether it be economy related or what have you," said Rothwell.
Firestone does not sell used tires, Rothwell said. He said that's because used tires are more dangerous than a newly installed unit.
"You cannot guarantee the structural integrity of a tire after it has been mounted to a vehicle and rolled down the highway," said Rothwell. "This causes a weakness in your sidewall structure, which can lead to catastrophic failure."
Rothwell said sunlight can damage tires, but that damage is hard to detect visually.
"You're going to want to have them checked up at least once a month, if not every 5,000 miles. You're also going to want to watch that tread depth on it. If you're starting to see a little bit of uneven wear, it's time to take it to a tire shop and figure out why," said Rothwell. "Having a good used tire decreases the amount of braking distance. It increases you cornering ability and your acceleration."
Ken Buie agreed that used tires are more dangerous than new tires. Buie said he would still buy used tires for his work van.
"If I needed a set of tires on it and I found a good set of used tires, I would not hesitate to put a set on it," said Buie. "I do not go on a highway with it. I do not go at highway speeds, and so safety-wise, I wouldn't be concerned about it."
Buie said it takes twice as long to stop a vehicle with worn tire tread because more tread means more rubber on the road. Buie said he doesn't blame people for purchasing used tires for their everyday vehicle.
"People will come in to buy a new tire and a new tire would be $75-80 at that time, which are much more expensive today than they were then. At the same time, they could get a good used tire for $20 a piece installed on their car," said Buie, who owned a car lot and tire shop. "For $80, they could have a set of new to them tires rather than having to spend $400 for a set of tires."
Buie said some tires could be 10-15 years old by the time they're installed on a vehicle.
"You can find a lot of tires that tread wise and sidewall wise look excellent, but they may be so old that they have some defects that are not readily noticeable," said Buie.
"You may have a tire that looks like it has tread, but you look down in your tread grooves. There are all kinds of dry rotted, cracky, and it also happens on your sidewall," said Rothwell. "If this area fails here, where this tread is, you could have a catastrophic blow out at 60 miles an hour. You may be a good driver but you're not going to be that good."
Rothwell said the average life of a tire is 3 ½ to 4 years. After that time, the outside elements begin to deteriorate the tire more rapidly.
"Your tread grooves, your sights for pushing the water away from it so we get that traction to the road. If we don't get that traction to the road, what are we going to do? We're going to slide off it if it gets a little wet, and that's our biggest issue, hydroplaning," said Rothwell. "As soon as you hit that wetness and that car begins to wiggle on you, you're going to start thinking about why is it doing that. Nine times out of ten, we're getting a little bit too low on our tread. We're losing that grip. We're losing that ability to handle, and we need new tires."