Kicking Tires: What Can It Tell You?

by Joe Ferguson on March 29, 2013

Kicking the tire

Much like when apartment or house hunting, purchasing a used car requires some homework. Nobody wants to take a salesman’s word at face value which is understandable. One thing that has always confounded me, though, (and I am guilty of this) is the usual practice of kicking the tires.

Besides being a colloquialism for inspecting something before buying it, what could kicking the tires possibly do for determining the integrity of a given automobile? My initial thought was that salesperson of old would tell potential used car buyers, “Go ahead! Give those tires a kick; this is one solid piece of machinery.”

Then the salesperson would laugh to his or herself as the dubious customer circled the car, diligently kicking each tire. What are they looking for? Is this just a technique to make the customer feel as if they are in the driver’s seat (pun most certainly intended) for this purchase?

After sleepless nights of attempting to solve this riddle on my own, I actually did a little research on what the kids keep referring to as “Internet”. Apparently kicking the tires can actually give you a good deal of information on a used car’s condition.

Kicking the tires gives you a feel for the condition of some of the most important components of a car’s functionality. Tire tread, air pressure, bearings, suspension, and mounting security are essential features for a safe ride. Kicking the tires can help you determine whether or not these important aspects are in good working condition.

If you kick the tires and receive a bounce back, the pressure should be at acceptable levels. If you kick a tire and receive no bounce or kick the tire out from under the car – the vehicle is no doubt in need of some dire auto repairs.

To kick or not to kick – it’s up to you. A swift kick to a used car’s tires can either save you from purchasing a lemon or send you limping to your newly purchased used car’s driver’s seat.

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