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BUYING USED TYRES is a nightmare, you won't know what you're getting until they turn up, tyre dealers are about as trustworthy as used car salesman, and if you're not happy, returning them can be bloody expensive. 
 I'll start with tread depth.
 New car tyres have 6.4mm of useable tread on them. Everyone says they've got 8mm but they become illegal with 1.6mm left on them. Most tyres have wear indicators moulded into them - look for a line of bumps in the centre of the tread grooves. That's where you want be measuring a tyre, so if a seller says a tyre has 4mm of tread left, they've actually got 2.4mm of tread left before you've got to change it.
 A bald tyre can get you a £2500 fine and 3 points on your license. That's per tyre, so 4 bald ones could get you a 10 grand fine and a driving ban !
 Punctures next.
 If a seller says the tyre hasn't got any punctures, they only way you'll know is to examine it before you get it fitted, and then keep your fingers crossed it doesn't go down straight away, or worse, slowly - after you've left good feedback and done a few miles on it. £5-£10 for a puncture repair.
 Ever pulled a nail or staple out of a tyre ? Then the only sign of a puncture will be a hissing sound and you with your jack out on the hard shoulder. At night. In the rain. On a hill.
 If the seller says they tyre has a puncture repair, then it may well have another puncture that can't be legally repaired because it's too close to the first repair. If you're lucky it'll go on, stay up, and you'll be happy, Until you get another puncture within 300mm of the other one and then the tyre is scrap. Better make sure your spare's in good nick or the tyre repairer will be wanting to fit a new one for you.
 Damaged Tyres.
 If the tyre is advertised with any damage whatsoever, ignore it. Might be ok for a few miles, but a damaged sidewall will not last long and could get you in trouble (see above).
 Tyre sizes.
Obviously they've got to be the same diameter as your wheels, but there are lots more numbers on the side of a tyre which you need to look at.
 The first number is width, eg, 185, 205, 235. You need to make sure the tyre will fit your rim. Some simple research will get you on the right track.
The second number is the height of the sidewall shown as a percentage of the width. So a 205 50 tyre will be 205mm wide, and 102.5mm high. The profile affects handling, and speedo readings. A higher overall diameter will make your speedo read faster, a lower diameter makes it read slower. As an example, if you put a nice set of alloys on your van and went from a 205 65 15 to a 205 45 17, your speedo would read about 5mph slower than before, resulting in increased mpg, and a queue of angry dick heads behind you.
 The third number is the diameter of your wheel in inches or mm. Most are in inches. Then you get some letters, eg. V, H, ZR. This is the speed rating. If you've got a car that does 150mph you need a tyre that can handle it, so do some research.
 Next you get the weight rating, normally between 88 and 100 for car tyres. This is how much weight each tyre can hold before it explodes in a ball of flame and kills everyone within a mile radius. Research what the numbers mean, divide your vehicles maximum loaded weight by 4, and away you go. Your vehicle will fail it's MOT if it's got the wron weight rated tyres on it. Worth bearing in mind if you've got a small van.
 The numbers and letters don't always come in this order, but you're clever, and you can work it out. Anyway wikipedia explain it far better than I do (even if they can't spell tyre properly) :  Links to external websites are not allowed in eBay Guides. Please correct before publishing.

Only for off road vehicles in my opinion. There are bad and not so bad, but they're all shit, so why bother ?
 You've found a set of  four matching contigoodstones, the right width, profile, the right speed and weight rating, no damage or punctures, and the seller says they've got 6mm of tread (4.4mm). Cool. They're £30 each. Which is good, because new Bridgelliyears are £100 a corner. The seller wants £10 a tyre for delivery, which is fair for one, but you want a bloody good discount if you buy more than one. Couriers don't arse about weighing and measuring things unless they're obviously miles out, and you can bet your footpump the seller isn't going to send you four seperate packages. Oh no, he'll tape two together and pay exactly the same as he would for one tyre, get a good discount himself and not pass the saving on to you. Where was I ? Oh yeah, £120 for the tyres, £40 for delivery, £160 so far. 
 If you can find a tyre fitter who doesn't mind fitting used tyres, it's going to cost you £10 a corner to get them on the rims and balanced. If the tyres are damaged he might refuse to fit them, and if the does fit them and they don't stay up, you'll be paying for the repair. If he can repair it legally. That's another £40 for fitting, and let's be pessimistic and add £15 for 2 puncture repairs. £215 total. Just a bit more than half what you would have paid for the four new ones. A lot of new tyres come with a guarantee against punctures too.
 How far you get on the 4.4mm of legal tread depends on how you drive, but if you're paying half price, you want at least half the mileage out of them, so you might bet a bargain.

I hope this has helped anyone thinking of buying used, part worn tyres.

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