The auto industry is renewing warnings to drivers to be very careful if they buy second-hand tyres, following an investigation which found that 99% of traders were selling illegal tyres.Around 5.5 million second-hand tyres are sold in the UK each year, with the obvious attraction that they are cheaper than new tyres.
But last year, safety organisation TyreSafe investigated 68 sellers of part-worn tyres in England and Scotland, and found that all bar one were selling illegal tyres. Three quarters of the tyres on sale were unsafe.
Car dealers, motoring websites including AutoExpress and Autocar, and even the Local Government Association have warned that part-worn tyres constitute a big risk.Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe, said: “Despite years of appalling results from these investigations into part-worn tyres, these findings still come as a shock.”
It’s legal to sell part-worn tyres, but they must meet a series of requirements. They should be in good condition, with no lumps, bulges or tears, and none of the internal structure or cords should be visible. The tread should also be at least 2mm, and they must be clearly marked as part-worn.
Autocar pointed out: “Tyres that do not meet these minimum requirements could cause you to have a very serious accident.” But that doesn't mean that a tyre that does meet the requirements is necessarily a great purchase - you don't really know what state that tyre is in.
It’s impossible to tell, for example, if there’s any unseen damage on second-hand tyres – they may have hit kerbs frequently or been run with the wrong air pressure. Many are even sold with structural damage, without having been checked at all.
The 2mm tread requirement is just above the legal minimum of 1.6mm. Most part-worn tyres have around 4mm of tread, while most new tyres, in contrast, have 8mm or 9mm. Because of reduced tread depth, part-worn tyres won't grip the road as well, particularly if it's wet. This will mean your car has less traction and aquaplaning will be more likely.
Second hand tyres will, of course, not last as long as new tyres, so they may well turn out to be a false economy. A tyre with 2mm of tread will probably only be fit for a few hundred miles before it needs to be replaced.
However, the real issue here is surely safety. According to TyreSafe, each year in the UK more than 1,200 motorists are injured in an accident where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres are a contributory factor.
Autocar stated,“If we could guarantee that part-worn tyres were completely safe and compliant with the regulations, there’d be little reason to be wary of them.The truth of the matter is this: if there was one area of car maintenance in which you shouldn’t scrimp on cost, it’d be the only part of the car that actually makes contact with the road – the tyres.”
As an established and reputable used car dealer, we at Carwise Group can offer advice on car tyres and other aspects of vehicle maintenance. Our used cars for salehave all been thoroughly inspected by our in-house technicians to ensure their safe performance. If you'd like to take a test drive, call your local Carwise dealership – we’re in Maidstone and Harlow.