Essential tyre checks when buying a used car

checking-your-tyresWhen it comes to buying a used car, there are a lot of aspects you must inspect properly to ensure you are getting a quality vehicle. Car tyres are one of these and it is important that you know how to detect signs of damage to avoid getting a poor value deal.

Recently, AA Tyres technician Dave Jones was collecting an item he’d ordered online and noticed the tyres of a two-year-old vehicle for sale. The tyres caught his eye as they had a pattern that had been discontinued for more than two years, and on closer inspection he saw they carried a three-digit number, meaning the tyres were made before 2000.

Essentially the seller had swapped the more expensive, new, smaller original tyres with this set of older and dustier ones, presumably so they could sell the original tyres on for a profit. It’s therefore vital you make key tyre checks when looking at any used car for sale.

Tread depth

The minimum legal tread depth for a tyre is 1.6mm across the entire width of it. To check this, simply take out a 20p coin and insert it between the tread. If you can still see the dots which are just within the coin’s inner circle, then the tread is below 1.6mm, otherwise it is legally fine. Still, if the tread depth is dangerously low then this is worth using as a point for negotiation, as you will have to buy a new set of tyres in the near future.

Wear and tear

A pair of front tyres should last for around 20,000 miles and rear ones about 40,000 miles. If there is much difference between the wear and tread of the left and right side tyres, then it could mean the wheels are not correctly aligned or signal a more serious problem. Ensure all the tyres are the same make, as if one or two are different then it signals they have been replaced due to low tread or other problems. They should all be the same size too.

Tyre pressure

It is simple to increase the tyre pressure if it looks low, which means there could be a more serious problem with the car when a tyre is flat and the seller hasn’t amended it. Give each one a decent pat to determine its level, as if a car is driven regularly on under or overinflated tyres this will increase wear and the chance of inflicting further damage.

Spare tyre

Inspect the boot and ask the seller whether there is a spare tyre included. When there isn’t, it could be that it has already been used, which suggests there has been a problem with a previous tyre, or it never had the need for one. Have a look at the spare tyre when one is present, to ensure that it is roadworthy too.

Ask questions

Finally, by asking a few questions you can get a better idea of how long the existing car tyres are likely to last before replacing. Questions to ask include:

  • How many miles the car has done on the current set of tyres?
  • When was the last time they were inflated?
  • Have there have been any problems such as uneven wear?

This should highlight any issues that may put you off the car, signal you’ll need to buy new tyres or provide points to negotiate on price.

Be sure to make all of these checks on the car tyres of any used car you are looking to purchase, so you don’t end up buying a vehicle with unnecessary additional costs.

Image courtesy of iStock.



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