What should I check in the tyres before buying a used car?

By Julia Freeman

When buying a used car, it can be easy to focus only on the vehicle itself. However, as the sole point of contact with the road, car tyres are just as important to include in your checks when looking at a used car. This is essential, as any retailer is responsible for ensuring tyres are roadworthy before selling, but they are unlikely to cover the cost of repairing or replacing tyres after purchase. Additionally, if you can identify issues before the sale, you can then factor in the cost of repairs or replacement in the price you are willing to pay.

checking tyres before buying a used car

Below we outline what our tyre professionals consider as the most important tyre quality checks to make before any vehicle purchase. Remember, if you identify any concerns, most repairs and refitting cannot be done without the necessary tools and experience, which is why our qualified fitters are always available to take care of any remedial work safely and efficiently.

Tread depth

When it comes to tyre quality, a seller has legal responsibility for ensuring a safe and roadworthy tread depth. The minimum in the UK is 1.6mm, which can be easily checked for with a 20p coin. Insert at multiple points across the circumference of the tyre, and if the outer band of the coin is at all visible, then the tyres are not safe to drive. In our experience, it is worth remembering that 1.6mm is the minimum rather than the optimum, so if you expect to be driving in wet or wintry conditions, we highly recommend considering changing tyres at 3mm rather than the legal minimum.

Lumps, bumps and cuts

No car tyres should have an uneven surface, so always look over the entire tyre tread and sidewalls for any lumps, bumps or cuts. Anything unusual should be taken seriously, as although they may not indicate a full-blown puncture, these abnormalities can indicate potential internal structural damage and should be taken to qualified fitters for checking as soon as possible. Also, make sure to remove any stones, debris or foreign objects as these can sometimes hide cuts or even punctures.

Tyre pressure

While the seller doesn't have a legal responsibility to ensure correct tyre pressure, checking for this can be a good indicator as to how well the vehicle has been cared for, as well as potentially indicating hidden damage leading to air leaking. Car tyres should be neither over- or under-inflated, as both lead to increased wear as well as reduced contact with the road, which weakens grip and stability. The vehicle's manual should provide the correct pressure figures, while qualified fitters will also have access to this information.

If in doubt, get it checked

Years of experience tell us that following these simple checks can help pre-empt costly repairs or replacements soon after buying a used car. If you are in any doubt, contact our tyre professionals who can offer a free tyre check which can be easily booked online. Our qualified fitters have the necessary tools and experience to quickly and easily assure you of the quality and condition of any tyres. If you need replacements, we stock a range of brands, including Pirelli, Falken and Bridgestone.

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About the author

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By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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The importance of having a tyre fitted correctly
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