"Kick the tires and look serious" recognized as first rule for used car appraisal; 1915.
One of the things you wait most eagerly to hear a salesman say is the amount of the allowance. A good salesman will deliberately build up your suspense. He will start your engine, kick the tires, run his hand over the upholstery, stick his head under the hood, but, if your fenders are undented and the glass unbroken […]
Origin of kick-the-tires
- Early 20th century. Tires on early automobiles were made of thin rubber and were sometimes of poor quality, hence a prospective buyer might kick them to see how thick they were or if they would deflate.