What Do Tire Shops Do With Old Tires?

So you just got brand new tires installed on your car by your local tire shop. As you watch them remove the worn-out rubber from your wheel rims, you can’t help but wonder: what actually happens to my old used tires?

It’s an excellent question. The average driver goes through quite a few sets of tires in their lifetime. Yet we rarely think about the fate of all that accumulated rubber waste.

The tire disposal process is highly regulated, but there are plenty of options available for responsible recycled and reuse. Let’s take a look at the common routes old tires take when they leave the shop.

Here’s a quick answer:

When you replace worn out tires at a tire shop, the old ones must be disposed of properly. Responsible tire dealers work with specialized recycling partners that collect and transport the accumulated used tires. They are then shredded and processed to extract raw materials like rubber, steel, and fiber for conversion into new products such as playground mulch, sports tracks, rubberized asphalt, and more. This approach keeps tires out of landfills.

Understanding Why Proper Disposal Matters

Before we dive into specifics, it helps to understand why proper end-of-life tire management matters in the first place:

  • Used tires take up large amounts of space in landfills and are difficult to compact. Dumping them irresponsibly can contribute to landfill volume issues.
  • Tires easily collect water when stored outdoors, providing ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes and other pests. This poses a public health concern.
  • Old tires also present a significant fire hazard due to their flammable construction. Large tire fires can burn for months and cause severe environmental damage.
  • There is also growing recognition of the reuse and recycling value of rubber materials. Extracting additional value from tires aligns with circular economic principles.

Thankfully, there are responsible disposal solutions in place to handle America’s 300+ million scrap tires generated per year.

Ask the Shop About Their Disposal Process

The first step is simply to ask your tire shop how they handle end-of-life tires.

Responsible tire dealers should have an established disposal workflow in place. In many cases, they partner with specialized recyclers and haulers to pickup accumulated tires. Depending on your state’s regulations, they may charge a small per-tire fee to fund proper recycling.

StateTire Disposal Fee
California$1.75 per tire
Texas$2 per tire
New York$2.50 per tire

Confirm with the shop that your old tires ultimately reach legitimate reuse and recycling endpoints. This due diligence helps ensure they don’t end up irresponsibly dumped.

Recycling Centers and Collection Events

If the tire shop does not handle disposal on your behalf, look into options from your local waste management authorities. Many municipalities and counties operate recycling facilities that collect tires from residents and small businesses.

For example, the city of Phoenix hosts monthly “Tire Amnesty” collection events where residents can bring up to 10 tires per trip for free recycling.

You can also search online for “tire recycling near me” to locate private recycling companies in your region. These accept tires year-round, often for a small drop-off fee. Call ahead to check current rates and the types of tires they accept.

Creative DIY Tire Reuse Options

Before sending wheels out for recycling, consider getting creative with DIY upcycling projects first. Repurposing used tires around your home and property keeps them out of landfills a bit longer. Plus, who doesn’t love a good craft project?

Here are some popular tire reuse ideas to spark your imagination:

  • Garden planters – Tires make excellent beds for plants and vegetables. Paint them bright colors for extra charm!
  • Tire swings – An iconic backyard accessory. Just be sure to hang properly from a sturdy tree branch.
  • Sandboxes – Make a fun play area for kids by positioning a few tires together and filling with sand.
  • Compost bins – Cut tires open and use as handy containers for yard waste and kitchen scraps.
  • Auto repair stands – Position tires flat to safely elevate vehicles for DIY repair jobs.

Check Pinterest and YouTube for step-by-step tire craft tutorials. With scrap wood, some paint, and hardware, you can upcycle old rubber into all types of useful and whimsical creations.

Additional Handling Considerations

A few final notes to keep in mind when managing scrap tires:

  • Always check local regulations before disposing of tires yourself, even if sending for recycling. In some areas, handing over tires to unlicensed collectors may result in fines.
  • You can sell usable tires in good condition to auto salvage yards or retreaders. However, damaged and worn tires will need proper recycling.
  • Ask neighbors and friends if they have old tires to dispose of too. Combining a shared pickup with recycling centers or haulers may reduce per-tire fees.
  • Practice source reduction when purchasing replacement tires. Choose quality long-lasting tires to delay needing new ones. And properly maintaining tire pressure and alignment extends useful tread life.

Moving Toward Better Tire Stewardship

It’s clear that keeping used tires out of landfills requires attention from all players: regulators, manufacturers, shops, haulers, recyclers, and everyday consumers.

Thankfully, increasing awareness and expanding recycling infrastructure allow us to reduce scrap tire waste. So next time your shop hands back those worn balding wheels, you can feel confident they’ll eventually find renewed purpose.


1. Do tire shops charge me to take my old tires?

Most tire shops do charge a small tire disposal fee, usually around $2-3 per tire, to fund the proper recycling of your old tires. In some cases, this fee may be waived if you are purchasing new tires from them.

2. Can I drop off old tires if I didn’t buy new ones there?

Some shops may accept tires even if you did not purchase from them, but they typically charge a disposal fee. Always call ahead to check their policies before showing up with a pile of old rubber.

3. What happens to my tires at the tire shop?

Reputable shops work with professional recycling partners to pickup and haul away accumulated tires. The tires get transported to processing facilities to be shredded and converted into new products like playground mulch, rubberized asphalt, and more.

4. Can I recycle tires on my own somehow?

If shops or recycling events are not feasible options, you can explore DIY reuse ideas before considering disposal routes. Tires can be upcycled into planter beds, compost bins, swings, sandbox borders, and more. Check your local regulations first.

5. Are there limits on how many tires I can drop off?

Most tire shops and recycling events place limits on drop-offs, usually around 5-10 tires per visit, to prevent commercial businesses from dumping excess inventory. Call ahead to confirm any quantity restrictions.

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