Used Tires: Profit – VS – Liability

Retail sales of used tires can be quite profitable, considering that more often than not there is zero cost of the tires. The question is; can the profit outweigh the liability? With so many tire failure related litigation cases it becomes even more difficult to answer.

Even though selling used tires is not illegal, the law is very critical on your responsibility to ensure that the tire is in safe condition when sold. Businesses are still liable even if they were not aware of any defect at the time of the sale. By accepting payment for any tire new or used there is an expectation that that tire will provide safe handling and performance for a reasonable period after the sale.

With new tires the liability falls on the manufacturer, unless the defect is caused during storage or the installation. Well that is mostly true. Consider that your “new” tires have been sitting on your rack for a few years and the manufacturer has recalled them. Now the liability falls on the business owner whether he/she is aware of the recall or not. Keeping your tire stock fresh will help limit your liability.

Let’s say that you would like to ignore Tuffy’s recommendation to avoid selling used tires and sell them anyway. What should you look for while examining your used tire stock to help improve your chances to actually keep all your profits and avoid litigation?

  • Use the DOT number to verify the tire is not under recall: Tire Recall Lookup / U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association. Any tire (New or Used) that has been recalled cannot be sold and must be handled in accordance of the recall.
  • No bead damage
  • Make sure there is no run flat/low damage, even slight discoloration to the inner liner is bad news
  • No shifted/separated belt
  • No bulges or bubbles
  • No area of tread less than 3/32 inch
  • No crack or injuries exposing belt or sidewall cords
  • Make sure that there are no existing non-approved repairs including: rope plugs, shoulder repair, sidewall repair, plug only, patch only, and number of repairs (normally three or more is NOT acceptable)
  • Tire age; some automotive manufacturers state in the owner’s manual to replace tires at six years regardless of tread condition (including spare), also many tire manufacturers say that tires ten years or older (including spare) should be removed from service. The following link from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) talks of tire ageing see page 18 for “Guidance for Consumers”. CLICK HERE

Note that not all tire manufacturers are represented in the above recall look-up link. If your tire manufacturer is not listed, please go to the manufacturer’s website to check for recalls there. Remember, the best way to avoid litigation is to refrain from selling used tires and make sure to keep your “new” tire stock fresh. It is advisable to rotate stock often and use the recall lookup link for any tires that are six months or older before selling.