Posted by Bruce Kahl on June 19, 2007
In Reply to: Kick the tires posted by T Rose on June 19, 2007
: Could anyone please clarify or give additional information to what I have understood the origin of the phrase "kick the tires". I understand it comes from early American settlers when they moved from the Eastern coastal areas of the country to expand into the Western territories back in the 19th century, and along the wagon-trails, there were towns sporadically setup that would have "wagon-dealers" that sold wagons to those travelers who needed replacement transportation. Some unethical wagon dealers would try to sell used wagons that had rotten wood on the axles, and would only replace the wagon wheels themselves, and if the prospective buyer would "kick the tires" of the wagon, and wagon-rot would fall out of the wheel, then they would know the wagon was not one they should buy nor the dealer one they should buy from. This is a very common phrase used in communication in the United States today, and I am looking for either confirmation or alternative origins anyone may have.
Wagons did not have tires. Andre Michelin used a rubber tire around 1900 but it was a bit later that rubber tires came to be popular, way past the dates of people moving west via wagons.
Kicking the tires is just a really inefficient way of testing a car's quality.