Treading Dangerously: The Hidden Dangers of Riding on Old Tires

by Jenn

Owning a car comes with several different expenses. Aside from paying your car note, you must also budget for insurance, registration fees, and regular car maintenance. If you are like most consumers, you are looking for an effective way to save money on costs that are not avoidable. While there is nothing wrong with looking for savings on your insurance, one vehicle component you should never cut corners on is your tires. With so many different used tire companies advertising cheap deals, it is very tempting to outfit your vehicle with used tires just to save money on tire replacement. Unfortunately, many do not understand that this decision to save a few dollars can pose a safety hazard and lead to expensive vehicle repairs.

What Exactly Happens When a Tire Ages?

Before you can truly understand whether or not buying a used tire is wise, you need to take time to understand what happens when a tire ages. All tires age. The timeline in which it takes a tire to age, however, can vary. Road conditions, alignment issues, heat, and cold can all reduce the lifespan of your tires.

An aging tire can easily be compared to an old rubber band that is steadily losing its elasticity. As with the rubber band, tires will start to show cracks in the rubber when they expand and contract. These cracks, though they might not be visible, will continue to develop over time. They can start to form on the surface of your tire and the inside of the wall as well. As the cracks become worse, they will lead to the separation of tread belts from the rubber. This is what is referred to as a blowout when the separation occurs while the vehicle is in motion. 

Buying New is the Best Option

All tires will succumb to age at some point. While some tires may be manufactured with a chemical compound called anti-ozinant, the aging process is not avoidable. Unfortunately, when consumers buy used tires from random tire companies, they have no way of knowing just how old the tires are. The salesmen may focus on the price, the tread depth, and the surface of the tire, but what you need to know is what effects time has taken on the rubber. After all, cracks that are caused by aging can be internal and not visible to the human eye. This is why it is best to know what you are buying and buy new when you need to replace your tires.

The Hidden but Real Dangers of Riding on Aging Tires

When you buy tires, you often need to price the cost of the tires, balancing, and mounting to pay for the entire replacement. Used tires often become very attractive because of all of the costs associated with tire replacement. But with a used tire, you never know what you are getting. A one-year-old tire, if poorly maintained, can be just as dangerous as a well maintained 10-year-old tire. Knowing the dangers will help you make a wise investment in the future. Here are just some of the many hidden dangers you might not know about:


Blowouts are the most common tire failures that are reported today on roadways because of tire aging. The main cause of blowouts is internal cracks in the rubber that cause the tread to separate from the steel inside of the tire. While some of these cracks may be visible, a majority of unsafe changes in the tires that can lead to a blowout cannot be seen with the naked eye. Both rotting and cracking, which are irreversible consequences of aging tires, can lead to blowouts.

Grip to the Ground

Another danger of riding on old tires is that you do not get the grip your vehicle needs to maintain control on the ground. Your tire is the only vehicle component that touches the surface of the road. Because of this, it is extremely important that your tires grip the ground so that you are safe when you are traveling at highway speeds, turning, or driving on slippery roads. Some used tires are sold with tread depths that will not provide the grip that you need to ensure you are safe in any driving conditions.

Vehicle Damage

Abnormal tire wear can lead to serious and expensive vehicle damage. Not only does an old tire affect the alignment of a vehicle, it also affects how hard your engine must work. This means that you are using more fuel and putting your engine under more distress than necessary.

While it is tempting to ride on your old tires as long as possible, it is very important to have them replaced with new tires when they are beyond their expiration date. When you buy new tires, you have peace of mind in knowing that you are equipping your vehicle with original-equipment tires that have not even started to age.

Author Bio

Jennie is an automobile enthusiast and blogger living in the U.K.  For tyres in Rochdale, she recommends visiting

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Chelsea P January 31, 2013 - 8:21 pm
I didn't even know they sold used tires! Wow! We just had a flat and I ran to Wally World to get a can of Fix-A-Flat and new valve covers and the can exploded everywhere...and my tire's still flat. The valve stem needed to be replaced. Thanks for the read!
Celina K February 3, 2013 - 5:04 am
My father used to like finding deals on used tires, I never thought it was a good idea in the long run. Guess I was right! ;) Great advice!
lisa February 4, 2013 - 2:43 pm
Thanks! I seriously need some new tires!
Gail Williams February 4, 2013 - 9:28 pm
Just got a new set of tires! I am glad!!! How I would have hated having a flat on the 1200 mile trip to my daughter's wedding! Great advice on tires!
Karen Hand February 10, 2013 - 2:56 pm
We just purchased a new set of tires in November. I feel so much safer now to travel. Thanks for the great review.
Andrea Williams February 10, 2013 - 3:56 pm
Thanks for this article. Very informative. I am blessed with a hubby who always takes care of our car and makes sure the tires are good.
denise smith February 13, 2013 - 11:28 am
i had a friend that would try to get deals on used tires i dont do that now because of my kids great post
Mary Gallardo February 13, 2013 - 4:43 pm
A blowout is a scary thing to go through! It happened to me once, and I was so happy I wasn't driving extremely fast!
Dorothy Reading February 15, 2013 - 3:41 am
This was great! Thank you! I learned the hard way not to let tires get too old or threadbare. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but it scared me straight, that's for sure.
charj February 18, 2013 - 12:04 pm
There are so many accidents in my area when the weather is bad. Now I'll be wondering how many folks are on the roads in bad weather driving on used tires. What a scary thought.
Sam Dock February 25, 2013 - 11:10 am
My husband found this out the hard way when we were in highschool and still just dating. He had a blowout and couldnt figure out how to put his spare on--he is a city kid--so I had to come rescue him and change his tire lol
Maria Iemma March 7, 2013 - 11:21 am
I was stranded on the highway when one of my tires blew - thank God for cellphones and I was able to call my friend to come and change it. Very scary
md kennedy March 15, 2013 - 12:03 pm
I haven't always bought new tires - as a teen re-treads were all I could afford. But I do agree that new tires are the best - and a great investment. If you live in an area that has winter driving conditions, don't rely on all-seasons - you will really notice the difference with winter tires - and it "forces" you to have a rotation twice a year which lengthens the life of your tires.
dustykatt April 21, 2013 - 2:53 am
As a truck driver the first thing they teach us is tire safety, but it's always been something I'm very picky about. I just wish I could get my son to put new tires on his car.
jody53 April 27, 2013 - 6:16 pm
Great to know! Thanks for the info! I always thought you could just drive on them until they were really bad.
Becky Schollian May 8, 2013 - 2:02 pm
I'm real bad with this one!! My son is a mechanic & gets on me all the time for allowing my tires to wear too far down. I think you are awesome for posting this blog!! This is the first blog I've come across that has mentioned car maintenance.
Amy Baker May 8, 2013 - 11:29 pm
Good article, I am sending to my email list! My hubby just had a wreck....but he did nothing wrong, the car ahead of him had a blowout and a chunk of that car's tire flew back and shattered his windshield.....scary stuff, the hood got a 10 inch dent in it too! Here's to NEW tires!
Sandie W May 26, 2013 - 4:09 pm
Great advise on tires. I just read an article this morning about 4 kids coming home from a concert. They had a tire blow out. While 3 of them were fine (they didn't roll) the fourth jerked her head so hard she severed her spinal cord. This could have been prevented with the purchase of new tires.
marissa lee May 26, 2013 - 6:03 pm
I hate to buy used tired..i prefer new ones like that i don't have to worry if something is going to go wrong with's scary to buy used tires...thank you for sharing.
Dorothy Boucher June 5, 2013 - 1:30 am
i hate having to spend money on tired or anything else for that matter in a vehicle, but when i travel I like to make sure the family is safe.. so yes everything gets checked before we hit the road , even the tires :) Thanks
Amy N. June 5, 2013 - 5:57 pm
I've had far more blowouts than I care to remember :( One occurred when I was 8 months pregnant, the front tire blew and sent me headfirst into a ditch. Scariest thing I've ever been through. (for the record no damage was done to baby or myself, thank goodness!)
Ruth Reynolds June 10, 2013 - 2:42 pm
tires are the number one thing besides oil that i pay attention to i have had blowout on highways going really fast flipped a car
Theresa Wilson June 20, 2013 - 2:28 pm
Thank you for the information. Very informative, I will pass it along. I had a blow out one time and I nearly killed myself because I was in the fast lane of Heavy New Jersey Rush Hour Traffic. That can be very dangerous. Luckily people saw the blowout and got quickly out of my way where i was able to safely stop my car. I will check my tires often after that. Wow!
lisa June 29, 2013 - 2:36 pm
I am due for new tires. It's something I know I need to get to. This article reminded me that it's more dangerous than I thought.
Ruth Reynolds July 4, 2013 - 11:36 pm
great info i have had blow outs and been stuck....rode on rims all of i have learned to take care of my cars over the years....thanks for info
lisa September 25, 2013 - 11:33 am
That reminds me. Car inspection is coming up and I need to get some new tires before then.
Deborah D December 23, 2013 - 3:28 pm
I never knew half of these things. Thanks for posting this and making me aware of these things to look for.
lisa January 21, 2014 - 1:03 pm
I thought I needed new tires. I took the car in for inspection and they said they had to rotate them. Why, I have no idea.
Wanda Bergman January 24, 2014 - 12:31 pm
This is a lot of good information that I didn't know before.
Linda Manns Linneman June 26, 2015 - 9:33 am
Tires are so important to maintain. I sure would want to cause an accident because of my tires. Blowouts can be fatal to everyone involved. Thank you so much for sharing this great information. It could be a matter of life and death

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