Is it okay to buy a used tyre for a car driven in Nigeria?

Is it okay to buy a used car tyre in Nigeria?

Buying a used tyre for a car driven in Nigeria is okay, only if you consider certain things when buying it. And these things you must take into consideration are —

1.) the tyre must not be over 6 years old (312 weeks);

2.) the tyre’s tread height must not be lower than “4 / 32” of an inch;

3.) the tyre must not have more than 4 cuts;

4.) the tyre can have cut(s) in only its tread area;

5.) the tyre can have only cut(s) not more than 6 mm wide (length, diameter, etc);

6.) the tyre must not have any irregularity in its shape;

7.) the tyre must not produce too much vibration;

8.) the tyre must not have any improper repair history.

If a tyre doesn’t meet just one of these requirements above, you should avoid the products completely, otherwise, you’ll be putting the lives of everyone in your car at great risk.

And to further help my readers better understand all these requirements I mentioned above, I’ll be spending the rest of this content giving further explanation about each of these requirements.

The 8 used-tyre buying requirements

1.) The tyre must not be over 6 years old (312 weeks)

Just like almost everything produced by we humans, tyres are objects which have expiry date. Whether we use them or not, a time will come, when they won’t be safe to use anymore. And when trying to buy a used tyre, one of the things (in fact, I should probably say “the first thing”) you should check is the age of the tyre. The age of any standard tyre can be gotten by checking the production date inscribed on it.

For those who don’t know what I mean by “the production date inscribed on the side of the tyre”, look for the DOT code on the tyre (the DOT code is usually a set of four alpha-numeric codes); this code typically look like this “DOT P143 35HV 1612”.

The DOT code of a tyre can be found on its side.
The DOT code of a tyre can be found on its side.

So when you find the DOT code of the tire, look at the fourth part of the DOT code (this code should be 3 or 4 characters long), and in the example above, the code I’m referring to is the “1612”. When you find this last code of the DOT code, take the first two characters as the week (of all the 52 weeks of the year) the tyre was produced, and take the remaining one or two character as the year in which the tyre was produced. For instance, in the example above, the tyre is stated to have been produced in the 16th week of the year 2012.

So once you get the production date of the tyre, then the count how many week has elapsed since the tyre was produced. To count how many weeks has elapsed, use week 1 as the week after the tyre was produced. For instance, if the tyre was produced in the 16th week of 2012, the tyre will be considered 1 week old after the 17th week of 2012. So count how many weeks has elapsed since the production of the tyre. If the number of weeks that has elapsed is greater than (or equal to) 312 weeks (6 years x 52 weeks = 312 weeks), you should avoid using such a tyre, no matter how good it looks.

To make it easy to determine how many weeks has elapsed since a tyre was produced, you can use a tool available via Calculator.net. However, using the tool will require providing the exact date the tyre was provided — that is, a date in the format “April 15, 2012”, and not a date in the format “16th week of 2012”. So to convert the date format on the tyre to something like “April 15, 2012”, you can use another tool provided on TimeAndDate.com.

Oh yes, I’m aware of the fact that there are some credible authorities that say tyres older than 6 years, but not older than 10 years can also be used. However, the thing is, only tyres used under very good conditions are what this applies to. When a tyre is used under good condition, it’s still quite safe to use it after 6 years of age, but the problem is “unless you’re the person who used the tyre, you may be unable to tell if the tyre was actually used under good condition”. And since tyres older than 6 years which were used under poor conditions can be very dangerous, it’s best to completely eliminate the chances of using such a dangerous tyre, since you may not be able to distinguish between those used under good conditions and those used under poor conditions.

In short, it is strongly advised that you stick to the max age of 6 years (312 weeks).

2.) The tyre’s tread height must not be lower than “4 / 32” of an inch (4/32”)

All standard car tyres have things we call grooves and treads. See the picture below, if you don’t understand what these things mean.

As for tread height, tread height is the vertical (upright) distance between a groove and a tread block of a tyre.

So when buying a used tyre, one of the things you also have to ensure is that the tread height of the tyre is not lower than “4 / 32” of an inch — that is, if we divide 1 inch into 32 equal parts, the tread height of a used tyre must never be lower than the total height of 4 small chucks combined.

Avoid all tyres having less than “4 / 32 of an inch” of tread height.
Avoid all tyres having less than “4 / 32 of an inch” of tread height.

The reason for saying this (ensure that the tread height of the tyre is not lower than “4 / 32” of an inch) is that, the grooves in car tyres have very important jobs they’re performing, but once they start to disappear (probably because of tyre wear), the grooves won’t be effective at performing their jobs. Giving some details, when walking on wet surfaces, if there are no grooves in a tyre (or the grooves are too hollow), the tyres of car will be unable to make good grip with the ground; rather than making good grip with the ground, water will take the some space between the ground and the surface of the tyre; and as a result of this, the driver of the car will lose very precise control over the car. For instance, let’s assume applying the brakes at 30 mph ordinarily takes just 3 second to bring the car to stop, with hollow grooves, applying the brakes at the same 30 mph could cause the car to stop at much longer times like 13 seconds; this increase in the seconds it now takes to bring the car to a stop, can be all that’s going to decide whether a person will survive or die in an accident.

There are so many other ways the disappearance of the grooves of a tyre can lead to safety issues, so never ever should you take this requirement for granted.

However, note that while I stated that the tread height of a tyre shouldn’t be lower than 4/32 of an inch (4/32”), this doesn’t mean you should buy a tyre having exactly a tread height of 4/32”. Since you’ll plan using the tyre for a while, the tread height should be higher (maybe 5/32”, 6/32”, 7/32”, etc). So please also take note of this. Furthermore, since new tyres typically have tread heights between 10/32” and 12/32”, finding used tyres with tread heights quite higher than 4/32” should be no problem.

Also, please disregard claims that you can use tyres with tread heights between 2/32” and 4/32”. Truly, some authorities make this claim, but the truth is, when your tyres’ tread heights are already below 4/32”, you’re are already putting the lives of those in your car at great risk. In fact, even when your tyres’ tread heights are between 4/32” and 6/32”, you have to be careful when driving, so how bad do you think it will be, to drive with tyres having between 2/32” and 4/32” of tread height?

As for those who wonder how they can know the tread height of a tyre, one of the most popular ways people do this, is with the help an instrument called “the tread height gauge”.

A tread height gauge.
A tread height gauge.
Another tread height gauge.
Another tread height gauge.

Tread height gauges comes in different forms, but they all work generally in the same way. For about N9,000, you can get one from stores where automotive parts are sold.

Also, I’ve spotted the equipment on sites like Jumia, so regardless of where you live, you should be able to get one.

As regards how to use the tread height gauge, you can check out this YouTube video (LEARN How to MEASURE Tire Life).

3.) The tyre must not have over minor 4 cuts

When trying to buy a used tyre, to ensure you don’t buy a tyre that’s bad, another thing to ensure is that the tyre you’re buying doesn’t have more than minor 4 cuts. Tyres with a few minor cuts can be safe to use, but when a tyre has many cuts (like 5, 6, 8, 12, 16, and higher), don’t ever make the mistake of choosing it no matter how good or new it looks. It also doesn’t matter if the cuts have been repaired, as long as a tyre has more than 4 minor cuts, avoid it.

However, don’t get me wrong, when I say “cuts”, I’m not saying little superficial scrapings. By cuts, I mean a cut like the one in the picture below.

An example of what’s meant by a tyre with a minor cut.
An example of what’s meant by a tyre with a minor cut.

As for tyres with major (big) cuts, avoid them completely. However, even though it’s okay to buy some tyres with minor cuts, if possible, avoid tyres with minor and major cuts, in general.

An example of what’s meant by a tyre with a major cut.
An example of what’s meant by a tyre with a major cut.

4.) The tyre can have cut(s) in only its tread area

While I stated above that tyres with few minor cuts can be used, not all tyres with few minor cuts can be used. Before considering a tyre with a few minor cuts, one thing you also have to ensure is that the cuts are in no place other than the tread area of the tyre.

The image below shows where it’s safe to have cuts on a tyre.

Only a tyre having a few cuts in the area coloured green should be considered.
Only a tyre having a few cuts in the area coloured green should be considered.

In short, when a tyre has cuts in places like its shoulders, side walls, beads, etc, you should avoid such a tyre; this consequentially means that the tyres in the following images are unsafe to use, even though they have just few cuts on their side walls.

The tyre in this image isn’t safe to use, since it has a cut on its side wall.
The tyre in this image isn’t safe to use, since it has a cut on its side wall.
The tyre in this image isn’t safe to use, since it has a cut on its side wall.
The tyre in this image isn’t safe to use, since it has a cut on its side wall.

5.) The tyre can have only cut(s) not more than 6 mm wide (length, diameter, etc)

When it comes to tyres with cuts, another thing to ensure is that a cut is not more than 6 mm wide. Scientifically and statistically speaking, tyres with cuts wider than 6 mm carry great safety issues. So it doesn’t matter if a tyre has just one over-6-mm-wide cut, you should avoid such a tyre. This consequentially means the tyre shown in the picture below, is not a thing you can consider, even though it has a single minor cut, which is also within their tread area.

A tyre with a cut not more than 6 mm wide.
A tyre with a cut not more than 6 mm wide.

6.) The tyre must not have any irregularity in its shape

When trying to buy a used tyre for your car, there exist the possibility of you being shown tyres with some irregularities in their shapes. Some tyres may have bumps, some may not be be streamline, as normal tyres are. So when you see such a tyre that has an irregular shape (like the ones in the pictures below), you don’t need to think twice to avoid such.

A tyre with an irregular shape.
A tyre with an irregular shape.
A tyre with an irregular shape.
A tyre with an irregular shape.
A tyre with an irregular shape.
A tyre with an irregular shape.

7.) The tyre must not produce too much vibration

There are times that you’ll see tyres that look very okay. They’ll pass all the requirements listed above. However, when you start driving around with them, you’ll notice a lot of vibration coming from them. This type of tyre is also a thing you should avoid. Such tyres may not look harmful, but scientifically and statistically speaking, there are so many serious safety issues that may arise from using them.

8.) The tyre must not have any improper repair history

When buying a used tyre, if the tyre has a cut, not only should you see if the type of cut it has is acceptable, you also ought to check if the cut was properly repaired. There are times when the cuts of tyres get repaired in poor ways; when you come across this type of tyre, you should also avoid such.

Closing words

In short, the answer to the question “Is it okay to buy a used tyre for a car driven in Nigeria?”, is “yes”. However, not all used tyres should be considered. The used tyres you can use are those which meet up with the 8 requirements state above. And to recapitulate, these requirements are —

1.) the tyre must not be over 6 years old (312 weeks);

2.) the tyre’s tread height must not be lower than “4 / 32” of an inch;

3.) the tyre must not have more than 4 cuts;

4.) the tyre can have cut(s) in only its tread area;

5.) the tyre can have only cut(s) not more than 6 mm wide (length, diameter, etc);

6.) the tyre must not have any irregularity in its shape;

7.) the tyre must not produce too much vibration;

8.) the tyre must not have any improper repair history.

Or in other words, only used tyres that are still relatively new (in terms of appearance and physical properties) are those you should consider.

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