Is it okay to buy used tires or aftermarket tires for my vehicle?
Quality tires are important for your vehicle, without them your vehicle won’t function as it should. For most people, the family car is what they rely on most. Your vehicle’s tires help in bringing you to work and taking your family everywhere from the cottage to school, to hockey practice.
Buying used tires is fine – as long as they’re inspected, not out of date, and meet all safety requirements. Generally speaking, it’s always better to invest in new tires.
How long will my tires last?
A tire’s lifespan depends on a lot of different factors. Your vehicle, the tires themselves, the driving conditions, and how many kilometres you put on them will all come into play. Typically tire changes will have to be done every three to five years. Depending on driving conditions, your tires may need to be replaced anywhere from 50 000 to 75 000 kilometres.
Even if you don’t put a ton of kilometres on your tires, they still may need to be changed.
Unfortunately, tires don’t get better as they age. “Some vehicle manufacturers recommend that tires be replaced every six years regardless of use,” the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. “In addition, a number of tire manufacturers cite 10 years as the maximum service life for tires…it is always wise to err on the side of caution if you suspect your vehicle has tires that are over six years of age,” they report. In Canada, Transport Canada requires that all tires have a TIN (Tire Identification Number), the last four digits of which correspond to the week and year they were manufactured.
We recommend not to buy tires that are more than two years old or that have more than 30,000 km because you’re likely to have to change them again in a year.
How do I know when my tires need to be replaced?
If your wheels aren’t aligned then your tires will wear out more quickly and unevenly, which means that you’ll have to get your tires changed more frequently. You can tell that you need an alignment if your car pulls to the left or right while driving or your steering wheel isn’t centered. Mechanics will usually also be able to catch whether your vehicle needs an alignment during a regular maintenance or inspection.
Your tire tread is what provides traction. Worn tread is also the best indicator of whether you need your tires changed. You should be able to tell visually when your tread is running low, but you might not notice over a long period of time. You can check for yourself with a ruler how much tread you have left:
- If you have 2/32” left (1.5mm), the tire is at it maximum wear limit.
- If you have 4/32” (3.2mm) of tread left, start shopping for replacements.
- If your tread is at 5/32” (4mm) then change your tires if you are driving regularly in wet conditions
- If your summer tires have a tread of 6/32” then you are fine (unless your tires are 5 years or older)
- If your winter tires have a tread of 6/32” (4.8mm) then you should replace them.
Should I buy all season tires or winter tires?
Canadians don’t need to be told the importance of switching to winter tires for the snowy months. They increase traction and handling and decrease stopping distance in winter conditions. All Canadian provinces officially recommend winter tires for temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius.
In Quebec, and certain parts of British Columbia winter tires are required by law.
Winter tires will wear down faster in temperatures above 7°C and need to be changed for summer tires when the weather improves. You should replace your winter tires when the tread is at a depth of 6/32” (4.8mm) – which is still a deeper tread than the recommendation for summer tires.
Tire safety should never be overlooked. Tire inspections and occasional tire changes are part of owning a car. Ignoring potential issues can end up being far more expensive in the long run. When considering used tires be sure to visit a reputable dealer, check the tread depth, the manufactured date and other signs of wear and tear.
If you are ever unsure about your tire life stop at your local Master Mechanic and talk to the mechanic!