Used tires becoming an increasingly popular (yet risky) alternative in struggling economy.

by Conrad Harris

With nearly 10% of Americans currently unemployed, households are trying to cut spending in every aspect of life. One main area in which costs are being lowered is transportation. Hybrid and electric vehicles have seen record sales in the past few years with gas prices fluctuating wildly and Americans trying to squeeze every mile possible out of a gallon of gas. For those that simply can’t afford a new vehicle, however, an interesting solution has emerged: used tires.

While some time ago the concept was largely unheard of, nowadays there are many companies whose sole business model is selling used tires to the general public. A simple internet search will return a number of different websites offering “used performance tires” and “used tractor tires,” to name a few. Virtually any kind of tire now has a used version available, and there is even “wholesale discount pricing” for those wanting to order used tires in mass quantities. Since they are drastically cheaper than new tires, many are now opting for these pre-owned versions for their automobiles.

Not only are they being sold, but over 150 million used tires are also now being repurposed and burned each year for “tire derived fuels,” or TDF for short. Many people are arguing for other proposed options for the disposal of these tires, as burning them harms the environment. Other recycled uses include doormats, roofing materials, playground equipment, and “crumbs” as an additive for asphalt, which extends the life of the pavement 4-5 years. There seem to be few benefits, other than saving money, in buying used tires for your car. They deteriorate quickly and, consequently, become unsafe to drive on after a short period of time, when the tread level has been worn down almost completely, at which point the tire is considered “bald.”

If you do opt for the “used” route, you had better be educated on the subject first. It is extremely important to know how to precisely measure the tread depth and air pressure to make sure they are where they need to be; also, you always need to inspect any used tire for repairs, rips, uneven wear, and bumps before buying it. Nothing is worse than having a tire that slowly leaks air that you have to pump up every few days. Look into these things beforehand, as most dealers will not offer any sort of refund on a purchase of this nature.

The verdict? If you absolutely cannot afford new tires, get some used ones to last you for a few months while you save some money. Used tires are not by any means a long-term solution, so you should only have them on your car temporarily. Obviously, if you do have some cash to spare, go for a good set of brand new tires that you know will last you a long time. Think of it as a long-term investment in your safety and the safety of your family, as well as your peace of mind.

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