It’s not uncommon to find tyre shops and more recently private online sellers selling used tyres, and more recently, new-old stock tyres, or old-new stock tyres depending on how you look at it. Of course, the main reason one buys a used or new-old stock (NOS) tyre is simply that they’re cheaper and more accessible. After all, nobody in their right mind will opt for a used tyre if they can afford a new one, but the question remains, are they safe for use, or should you avoid them at all cost.
Of course, there are several factors to consider if you are planning to buy (or have no choice but to buy) used or NOS tyres – such as the brand, age, condition, and even damage to the tyre if present. Especially, in our country, which has a hot climate, torrential rainfall, rough and pothole-ridden roads – all of this cause a lot of stress to be put on our tyres.
Before we go on, let’s define what these tyres are:
- Used tyres – typically tyres that were actively used on another vehicle, traded-in or sold to another user at a cheaper price.
- New-Old Stock – These are unused (brand new) tyres that were not sold in the period. Theses tyres were perhaps stored for a number of years (typically more than 5 years), which are then sold for a fraction of what they cost new
So in both cases, there are risks involved with choosing either one of these two options, therefore its best to arm yourself with the knowledge to know what you might be getting into.
Separately, while we will be looking at the common factors at play, this report focusses more on tyre age and degradation over time.
Due to the nature of tyre how tyres fail – i.e.: they might have a slow puncture, perhaps major blowout, damaged by road obstacles or worn down prematurely due to lack of care and maintenance, sometimes it might make perfect sense to buy a used tyre. Perhaps, your tyre failed while you were travelling outstation, far away from your trusted tyre shop – these things happen, and rarely with a warning.
After all, perhaps the other three have also been used for a while, and now because of a major puncture, you are left with the decision of whether to change all four of them or just get one used tyre on one side simply to buy some time before you can completely refresh all four. In addition, there is the cost factor of buying just one used tyre, versus an entirely new set.
A personal experience
If you are left with no other choice, it is important to consider the following few factors:
- The age of the tyre (look for the DOT compliant) manufacturing number to check when the tyre was made
- The depth and condition of the thread
- Check for uneven wear
- Check the condition of the bead section
- Check the inner liner of the tyre
It pays to know that tyre wear is dependent on an array of factors such as years of usage, road conditions, climate, rubber degradation and maintenance – so when you buy a used tyre, you are subject to all these factors, and any one of them can potentially cause more problems down the road.
We have covered the subject of tyres in a variety of articles, read on to know more.
New-Old Stock Tyres
These tyres are typically ones that were not sold in period and therefore have aged perhaps 4, 5 or more years. Typically, larger tyre shops will only shelve tyres for about 1-3 years, if these tyres are not sold within that timeframe, it is unlikely that it will sell later on. The reason these tyres may not be sold in period could range from its price, brand, or perhaps it’s a non-common size with lower demand.
Once these tyres sit on racks in storage for 4-5 years, larger shops may either return them to their supplier or sell them to smaller resellers (which can range from smaller tyre shops to private buyers) at a lower price tag.
Note, that these tyres, which have not been used before, were most likely stored properly in stores or racks – they’re just older than others.
This brings us to our main topic of discussion – are they still safe to use?
According to leading tyre manufacturer Michelin – tyres are safe to be used for a maximum period of 10 years from the date of manufacturer. After which, Michelin recommends replacing them with new tyres, even if they appear to be in a usable condition and have not been worn down to the tread wear indicator. This applies to spare tyres as well.
After five years or more in use, Michelin recommends a thorough yearly inspection to ensure your tyres are still healthy.
As it stands, there are no regulations that state how long a tyre can be used, much less a precise standard to determine the expiry date of tyres. This is because the aforementioned factors like usage, road conditions, climate and tyre wear can differ between tyre brands, models, and their applications.
Michelin has conducted a variety of studies on tyre degradation and found out that tyres that are stored properly for five years or longer have little to no difference in terms of performance to tyres that are fresh out of the factory.
Whereas, the British Rubber Manufacturers Association (BRMA) recommends that tyres that have been stored for six years or more should not be fitted to vehicles, and concur that tyres need to be replaced and/or disposed of after 10 years.
Therefore, what can we derive from all of this?
We can say for certain that the absolute expiry age of a tyre is 10 years – so regardless if you are buying a used or NOS tyre, its best to ensure that these tyres are newer than 10 years, or will not be used as it approaches the 10-year mark.
If you were planning to temporarily use second-hand tyres, we would recommend that you at least replace two tyres (on the same axle) at a time from a similar brand and model, or the same model as your other tyres. Again, be careful with the age and condition of the tyre.
We can also infer that an unused tyre doesn’t “go bad” if it's been stored for more than 1 year, so if you’re getting a 2,3-year old tyre, and nominally will use that set of tyres for another three years, you're still on the safe side.
As for NOS tyres that have been stored for over 5 years, it is wise to ensure that it has been stored well, and also, conduct periodic checks to ensure the tyres are healthy. Small cracks or uneven wear could be signs the tyres may be degrading faster than expected – and It may be wise to start planning your next course of action.
Finally, regardless if the tyres are new, NOS or used – proper maintenance and care will ensure its reliability and performance in the long run. Therefore ensure your tyres are always inflated to the right pressure and conduct periodical alignment and balancing to ensure their longevity.