July 22, 2024

Uko Akpan, a master’s student, relies on second-hand tyres due to unexpected financial constraints, reflecting a trend among Nigerian drivers opting for used tyres over new ones due to cost.

Used tyres in Nigeria are categorised into Tokunbo (imported, often in better condition) and Nigeria-used (locally sourced, typically more worn but cheaper). Tokunbo tyres are preferred for their perceived better quality, while Nigeria-used tyres are chosen for their lower cost.

Despite the lower initial cost of used tyres, they may not be cost-effective long-term due to faster wear and potential safety concerns. Drivers often face hidden defects, lack of warranties, and frequent replacements, leading to higher overall expenses and reliability issues.

Uko Akpan, a master’s degree student, juggles the demands of his studies and a part-time job. Recently, he found himself in a frustrating situation when his two front tyres burst unexpectedly.  

With limited financial resources, buying new tyres was out of the question.

Relying on his car to move around for both school and work, Uko turned to second-hand tyres as a more affordable solution. 

This choice reflects a growing trend among many Nigerian drivers, who, for various reasons, increasingly opt for used tyres.  

Used tyres in Nigeria can be categorized into Tokunbo and Nigeria-used tyres.  

Tokunbo tyres are imported from developed countries with frequent tyre replacements due to strict safety regulations.  

They vary in condition but are significantly cheaper than new tyres, making them appealing to budget-conscious drivers. These tyres are widely available in markets and from vulcanizers across Nigeria. 

Nigeria-used tyres come from vehicles within the country that have had their tyres replaced. Despite significant tread wear or minor damages, they are still considered usable and are sold by original owners to tyre sellers or vulcanizers. These tyres are generally cheaper than Tokunbo tyres. 

Many Nigerian drivers, vulcanizers, and mechanics believe Tokunbo tyres are in better condition than Nigeria-used tyres, as tyres in developed countries are often replaced more frequently due to stricter safety regulations, whereas tyres in Nigeria are used for longer periods due to less stringent enforcement. 

The significantly lower price of used car tyres compared to brand-new ones is the primary reason many Nigerian drivers, across various income levels, opt for second-hand tyres. This trend extends beyond just low earners. 

Christopher, a gainfully employed Lagos resident, said that he currently uses Tokunbo tyres for his vehicle. He cited their affordability as the main reason for his choice, noting that used tyres often cost less than half the price of new ones. 

“My most compelling reason for purchasing used tyres is their price. They are significantly cheaper than new ones, often costing less than half the price of their brand-new counterparts,” he explained.  

Similarly, Chiamaka Chukwu, who lives in Lekki and works on the island, mentioned that she has had to buy Tokunbo tyres on two separate occasions to replace her vehicle’s old tyres.  

She cited price as the primary factor, explaining that inflation had driven the cost of replacing all four tyres with brand-new ones to more than double what it used to be. She noted that by choosing Tokunbo tyres, she saved about 60% compared to the cost of brand-new ones.  

“I have bought second hand tyres for my car, I bought it twice in all my years of owning a car.

“Price was the factor behind opting for the used tyres. Inflation meant that the cost of changing all 4 tyres to brand new cost more than twice what it used to be. 

“I saved about 60 per cent compared to the price of a brand-new tyre,” Chukwu disclosed.

For Uko, the master’s degree student mentioned earlier, the reason for opting to buy second-hand tyres is their easy availability. He explained that used tyres are especially convenient when the need for replacement arises unexpectedly, and there has been no prior planning for such an expense. He noted,  

He said: “You can easily find second-hand tyres when you need them urgently, which is crucial when tyre replacements come up suddenly and without prior notice.”

Furthermore, Opeyemi, a vulcanizer with a shop at Maya Junction in the Ikorodu area of Lagos, about why some of his customers prefer used tyres.  

He mentioned that aside from the reasons already discussed, many customers buy used tyres for vehicles driven on rough terrain. These harsh conditions can quickly damage brand-new tyres, making second-hand tyres a more practical and cost-effective option since they are easier and cheaper to replace if damaged. 

The significantly lower price of used tyres is the main reason many Nigerian drivers opt for them. To understand this trend, Nairametrics explored the current price rates of both used and brand-new tyres. 

To obtain the prices of both used and new tyres, Nairametrics spoke to tyre dealers, including vulcanizers who also sell used tyres, as well as car owners who have recently made purchases. 

From the survey conducted, the price of Tokunbo car tyres for sedans and space buses, which are usually sized 15 to 17, varies between N18,000 to N30,000 per tyre, depending on the condition, grade, and place of purchase. 

Nigerian used tyres, typically sold by vulcanizers and at some mechanic workshops, are considerably cheaper, ranging from N5,000 to N9,000, depending on their condition. These tyres often have patches and show significant wear and tear but are still considered usable. 

Brand-new car tyres in the same size range (15 to 17) are priced between N60,000 to N90,000 for budget options. Mid-range new tyres typically cost between N90,000 and N170,000, while premium tyres can range from N180,000 up to N360,000, and sometimes even reach N500,000. 

While the initial cost to acquire used tyres is considerably cheaper than their brand-new counterparts, some car drivers who are using or had previously used tyres admitted that these tyres are not cost-effective in the long run. 

Christopher, who buys Tokunbo tyres at least once a year, acknowledged that while used tyres are initially cheaper, they may wear out faster or have existing issues requiring early replacement. This can lead to higher long-term costs compared to new tyres, which often come with warranties and guaranteed quality, making them more reliable and cost-effective over time. 

“While the initial purchase price of used tyres is lower, they might wear out more quickly or have existing issues that necessitate early replacement. This could result in higher long-term costs compared to investing in new tyres that come with warranties and guaranteed quality,” Christopher said.

Chukwu, who has purchased used tyres twice, stated that second-hand tyres are not a cost-effective option. She explained that the used tyres she bought didn’t last even a year, making them less economical in the long run. As a result, she now relies on brand-new tyres despite their higher initial cost.  

“Second hand tyres are not cost effective in my opinion. The ones that I have bought. They do not even last a year,” she said.

While they are more affordable, the safety and reliability of used tyres can be questionable. They may have hidden defects, reduced tread depth, or other wear and tear that can affect performance and safety. 

Inspecting the quality of used tyres is challenging. Although the exterior may appear fine, underlying issues such as tread wear, sidewall damage, or other defects are often not immediately visible. Used tyres might have internal damages that are not easily identifiable without specialized equipment, which could compromise the tyre’s structural integrity and pose potential safety risks. 

Chukwu also noted that when she bought second-hand tyres, the driving experience was not as smooth or steady. She needed wheel alignments more frequently and encountered more wheel and tire-related issues, such as problems with the tie rod and other components. 



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