Opportunities III

used tires

I was informed with our annual car check that our car needed new tires. I went and looked at them and they appeared to be perfectly fine to me. We don’t drive that much and have maybe put 10,000 miles on them (and that is probably stretching it). When I asked why we needed new tires, he said it had been three years since we bought them. huh?!?

“But they’re still perfectly fine.”

“They are three years old. You need new ones to be safe.”

“And how much are new ones going to cost?”


“?!?” and a few choice words I can’t repeat mumbled under my breath. “You want me to pay $800 for a new set of tires that the car doesn’t need just because they are three years old?”

“The car does need them because they are three years old.”

Trying to be logical, I tried this from another angle. “Okay, can you show me what is wrong with the tires. Is the tread to low? Is there a cut or puncture that make them dangerous? Can you show me what is exactly wrong with them?

“They’re three years old.”

I gave up at that point and said I would think about it.

I was telling this story at a gathering and one of the guys I was talking with just sat there smiling the entire time. When I finished, he leaned over and said, “Those tires should have been mine.”

Brian came to Japan from New Zealand originally to teach English, but saw an opportunity and has turned it into a million dollar business. After talking with him, anyone could have done it if they had kept their eyes open.

Getting rid of tires is quite expensive for auto shops in Japan. They have to pay someone to haul them away and dump them. Brian gets paid well to haul them away and then he tells me a secret. “The truth is, I would be willing to pay them to take the tires if they only knew.”

used tires wating to be hauled away

Why? Unlike all the Japanese companies that haul away the tires, he doesn’t pay to throw them into a dump. Instead he ships them back to New Zealnad where he – yes, you guessed it – sells the again. It seems that changing tires that are still in good shape and have life is a fairly common occurrence in Japan and they bring a nice profit when he sells them back home. So not only does he get paid for hauling, he gets paid again for selling them. Quite smart and anyone could have done it.

On my way to the post office there is an auto shop and there is always a large pile of tires that are waiting to be hauled away. I’ve walked by them a million times and never even thought that there was a couple of thousand dollars sitting on the street.

tire that needs to be replaced
Some tires need to be replaced, but they are the minority

I went and took a closure look today when I went by. Sure enough, the vast majority of the tires appeared to be in good condition. There were a few that obviously were well worn and needed to be replaced, but they were the minority in the pile. Some of them looked practically brand new.

It’s another example that there are a lot of opportunities around you to make money if you keep your eyes open.

Oh, and by the way, I decided I didn’t need new $800 tires.

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9 Responses to Opportunities III

  1. Cap says:

    wow look at all those thread life on those stacks of tires being dumped there..

    thats insane. it’s like the exact opposite in the state, where people run their tires till thread = 0 and they wonder why they have no traction in the rain…

  2. Michael says:

    Ten years in the auto-service business, and I’ve never once heard of someone recommending to replace tires based on age. It’s tread wear, condition, tread wear, and tread wear.

    Did I mention tread wear?

  3. Geomatryx says:

    I did same with my car battery. Not very sure if I could get thru the entire winter, but I am sure If i get past April, It should carry me over to next fall. I keep my jumper cables in case…LOL

  4. Cap says:

    woops that tread.

    too much online forums for me.

  5. Jay Gatsby says:

    Interesting story. Coincidentally enough, when I was backpacking through Japan in the early-90s, I was running low on cash and was looking for some part-time work. While living in a gaijin house for a week or so, an Australian I met suggested that I spend a few days sorting tires at an enormous tire yard that were destined for China and Russia. I earned the equivalent of $600, which I know doesn’t sound like much, but kept me going for a while until I left Japan.

  6. Caitlin says:

    Wow…that’s a little disturbing given the long term environmental impact in Japan (of the ones not shipped elsewhere) — I wonder what the genesis of their 3-year tire replacement culture is…

  7. Mike says:

    Probably most Japanese will say agree to the tyre change.

    If you are interested in this business ,China would probably be the best export market for used tyres.

  8. Marissa says:

    LOL! used tires are very common in El Salvador…
    Do you know if any efforts are being made to recycle? Because here in El Salvador the tires are not being sent to the dump anymore, the ones that REALLY belong into dumps are going into contention walls and other uses (which I cannot remember right now) but I know there are certainly many uses for them

  9. Pattie says:

    Ha! Here in Maine in my town the darn dump charges us $5.00 for each tire dropped off. Does this mean they are selling them to some other country and making a double profit??

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