Blemished Tires—Are They Worth it?

Last Updated September 9, 2022

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Whenever we find ourselves in need to replace something, it’s natural to look for a more cost-effective solution for that. Regardless if it’s discounts or something used, no one wants to throw their hard-earned money on something they can find for cheaper.

Blemished Tires

Getting something cheaper usually means making a sacrifice, so it’s important to consider how much cheaper you’re willing to go. For cars, my motto is that you should never cheap out on parts like tires.

Since they’re the only part of the car that’s touching the road, they’re responsible for accelerating, braking, and steering – crucial to your safety. This doesn’t mean that you should get the most expensive tire you can find, but you should avoid the cheapest one as well. It depends on your driving habits and the vehicle you own.

In the tire industry, there has been a trend called blemished tires, which I’ll be talking about in this guide. I’ll explain what these tires are and if you should consider or avoid them.

Should You Get Blemished Tires?

Yes. Blemished tires are models that have some minor cosmetic flaws, meaning that you won’t sacrifice performance. They perform the same as the regular models, and are more affordable, so they’re a good option to save a few bucks. Regardless of how you look at them, they are still a better option than user and worn tires.

What are Blemished Tires?

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, we refer blemish to something which has a flaw. Like those jeans that have a small tread sticking out of them or scuffing on the side, the same principle goes for blemished tires. They are models that come from the factory with a flaw, meaning stores sell them at a lower price.

During manufacturing, some tires that come out of the oven don’t turn out perfect. Some may have color defects, slight scrapes, maybe mismatched letters on the side, and many other faults. Manufacturers filter these out and send them out as blemished tires, which you can find with multiple sellers across the country.

How Can You Tell if a Tire is Blemished?

Don’t expect a stamp or label on the tire that says it is blemished. Sure, the store that will sell them will advertise them as such, so that’s one way of looking at it.

Manufacturers don’t mark the tires as blemished, so you’ll need to do a visual inspection to find the fault. Sometimes, the faults are barely noticeable, and most people may not even notice them. The visual clues are, as I mentioned, scuffs, letters printed in an incorrect order, and some may even be missing. If you’re looking at a tire with white lettering, the white may not be pure white, or they may not color some letters at all.

With that said, there are cases where you can come across a model which has more serious damage. Tires where you can see the inner construction or a larger chunk of the sidewall or tread is missing are serious safety concerns. It’s unlikely you’ll come across many of these in the wild, but it’s important to note that it has happened.

Should You Get Blemished Tires and Why?

The answer depends on the tire. If you’re looking at a tire with minor cosmetic flaws or damage, then you should get it or at least consider it. Despite the “damage” they have, there are multiple reasons you should consider them.

Cost is the most important thing. Blemished tires are more affordable than their “perfect” counterparts, so it’s a good way to get a new set of tires on the cheap. The price varies, so it will depend on multiple factors, so I’d recommend checking and deciding if it’s worth it, but in most cases, it is.

Cheaper tires are usually the worst performers when compared to the more expensive ones, which isn’t the case here. A blemished tire will perform the same as a regular one if the damage is superficial. Having identical performance means that you’ll be getting a tire that is just as safe as the standard non-blemished one.

The most important thing about blemished tires is the DOT certification. Manufacturers inspect the tires and the ones with minor cosmetic flaws get flagged as blemished tires, but they still get DOT approval. This means that the tire is safe to be used on public roads.

Blemished vs Used Tires

This is a straightforward decision: blemished tires, and I cannot emphasize this enough. I can understand people are looking for a set of tires on a limited budget without a lot of wiggle room. Used tires are the worst choice you can make, regardless of how “new” they may look.

A used tire has been driven, at least in most cases, so you’re not getting the full tread depth. Unless the tires are a few months old, getting them is not a good idea. Even if there are a few more years of “life” left in them, you still won’t be getting that much cheaper tires and you won’t be getting the full package.

Blemished tires are unused, so they’re brand new. Full tread depth and tires that aren’t a few years old at a price that isn’t far more expensive than used ones, but more affordable than new.

A Few Things to Note About Blemished Tires

Blemished tires don’t differ from regular ones at all. They underwent the same manufacturing process, so you’ll be getting the same longevity and performance. With that said, while the longevity will be the same, keep in mind that they don’t come with a treadwear warranty, so that’s a bit of a tradeoff.

With most tires that come with a treadwear warranty, you have a rough estimate of how long they should last, so the same applies here. If the treadwear warranty is 50,000 miles, the blemished tire should last the same. Many factors come into play when it comes to longevity. Uneven tire wear is something that will reduce it and I have an extensive guide on that, so you should check it out.

If you’re in the market for blemished tires, the first thing you should do is get them from a reputable seller. They sell only tires that have minor cosmetic flaws, so there won’t be any performance or integrity loss. As a result, you will be sure that the tire will be safe and won’t cause any issues in the long run.

The reason I’m mentioning this again is that there are shady places that will sell you blemished tires, which may seem fine. In reality, it’s a big problem because some tires may have massive structural flaws like the inner construction being visible or some deformities, tires that shouldn’t even exist. These are safety hazards, and you should stay away from them.

Conclusion

You’ve probably figured out my thoughts on the matter by now, but here’s a quick recap. Blemished tires aren’t something that you should avoid. As long as the flaws are superficial and there’s no structural damage to them, you will get the same performance as the regular models at a more affordable price.

The main thing to be cautious of is where you’re getting the blemished tires from. Reputable sellers will offer you the “safe” ones, while others may try to sell you tires with more serious flaws.

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