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Buying Used Tires, The Born-on Date Debate

Ali Mansour
Mar 10, 2015
Over the years, I’ve bought and sold my fair share of used parts. If I had to pick one item or items that I see hustled the most secondhand, it would be tires by a far stretch. Just recently, I had a friend pick up a used set of 37s for his wheeler. When he unloaded them out of the truck, I asked him if he knew how old they were and he looked at me as if I had two heads.
The tires appeared to be in good overall condition. No obvious signs of cracking, visible plugs, or cuts. The tread was a little chopped on two of the tires, but nothing a little rotating couldn’t fix. After a few minutes of ribbing about his tires being old and dangerous, I finally pointed out the born-on manufacture date on the side of the tire. According to the week/year stamp on the sidewall, the tires were a little over two years old.
While he did score a good deal overall, it got me thinking how many people actually check the date on the sidewall when buying a used set of tires. A quick poll among some friends and fellow auto-enthusiasts revealed that a fair amount of them didn’t care about the dates, but rather the tires overall condition. Most major tire-and-wheel shops will actually send back tires that have sat on the rack for over a year (often times sooner in many cases).
This is mostly for liability reasons I’m sure, but it definitely got me thinking. I’m a numbers guy, so the sidewall date is important to me. However, I’m starting to think that I might be the minority when it comes to checking the tires birthday. The allure of the good deal I believe can sometimes mask hidden problems. It’s always buyer beware when it comes to buying anything secondhand. Given your vehicles tires are the only thing designed to touch the road, I say it’s worth checking them out thoroughly.