Motorists looking for a bargain or drivers feeling cash strapped, particularly at this time of year, can be tempted into purchasing second hand or part-worn tyres when the time comes to replace their set. And when a part-worn set of tyres can cost up to half the price of a brand new set it is no surprise. After all, the UK has strict regulation on the selling of part-worn tyres and so they must be safe to use, right?
Sadly that is not always the case and, in fact, many used tyres sold in the UK are actually sold illegally. Whilst it is certainly possible to bag a bargain on a set of part-worn tyres, as a customer you have to be savvy and keen eyed. This is because, at the end of the day, driving with tyres that fail to meet legal standards is not only against the law, but potentially very dangerous. Almost a thousand motorists are killed every year whilst driving on illegal, defective or under inflated tyres. That is why it is so important to know exactly how safe the tyres you are buying really are.
Here in the UK we have strict legal standards to the sale of used tyres, detailed in The Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations Act 1994. In here it is explicitly set out that all part-worn tyres should come stamped with a clear ‘part-worn’ seal of approval, along with details of any repair work carried out on each tyre. This includes the details of the garage that carried out the repair work. If these markings are not visible, you can instantly classify the used tyre as unsafe. If the garage has failed to meet even this simple standard, what other corners have they cut in repairing and selling you this used tyre?
Moreover, without proper documentation and markings it is impossible for you as a consumer to know the history of the used tyre you are purchasing. Has it been involved in an accident? Has it been run up every curb in town? Has the previous owner caused serious structural damage to the tyre by driving it under-inflated for periods of time? If you can’t answer these questions then the tyre must be rendered unsafe.
Compare this to purchasing new tyres from a local approved tyre dealer, where the integrity of the tyre is guaranteed and suddenly the prospect of worn-tyres becomes less attractive.
A further consideration for motorists considering part-worn tyres is whether or not they are able to inspect the tyres before they are fitted. This is simply not the case in many garages, where the tyres are sold as a bargain and no questions are expected to be asked. This means you, as the customer, do not have a chance to inspect the inner walls for damage, repairs or compromises to the tyre’s integrity.
On the other hand, if you are local to Oxford, a search for ‘mobile tyre fitting Oxfordshire ’ will put you in touch with a firm able to sell and fit brand new tyres free of defects and the other potential pitfalls of part-worns. Across the country, buying a new set of tyres means you largely avoid the risk of having substandard or illegal tyres fitted to your car.
Now, despite the risks some do still opt to look for part-worn tyres when replacing their set. If this is you then there are certain criteria the tyres should meet for them to be safe. First of all, 1.6mm is the minimum requirement for any tyre to be road legal. That said; purchasing a tyre with any less than 3mm is a total false economy. Within a few hundred miles the tyres will be almost bald and you’ll quickly need to replace the set again. Moreover, the tyres should be free of defects, scuffs and any visible signs of damage. If the tyres fail to meet any of these criteria unfortunately they are not safe. Carry on your search or opt for new tyres instead.
So, the bottom line – is it safe to purchased used tyres? If you are savvy, keen eyed and patient, yes part-worn tyres are a viable short term option, particularly if you are tight on money and desperately need new tyres. In the long run, however, it is more economical and certainly safer to invest in a new set of tyres. Keep this in mind when making your decision.