It is no secret that buying new tyres can be expensive and, when used tyres can cost up to half the price, it is no surprise that some 4 million part-worn tyres are sold in the UK every year. Half price tyres? That sounds like a bargain. And in theory it can be, except numerous studies over the past two months have shown it often is anything but.
Quite horrifyingly, studies by organisations such as the BBC have found that whilst used tyres are usually extremely cheap, they are widely sold on the black market, in terrible conditions that are not only illegal but dangerously unsafe. Whilst it is important to note that there are many reputable garages selling road legal second hand tyres, the startling number of rogue traders that operate across the country make it like a game or Russian roulette.
Perhaps more surprising is the fact that these rogue traders are not hidden down back alleys. They operate on our high streets and do business online, on sites such as eBay. Unless you visit a trusted dealer or know exactly what you are looking for it can be easy to fall prey to these dealers and end up with substandard and potentially dangerous tyres on your car.
One of the reasons so many second hand tyres fail to meet legal standards is because they are so strict in the UK. The Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations Act 1994 dictates that all part-worn tyres must be stamped with ‘part worn’ on the sidewall and any repairs to the rubber must come with the details of the garage that carried out the work. Any part-worn tyres that are missing these seals of approval are automatically unfit for use on the road and the selling of them is illegal.
Moreover, without these markings it is impossible for a motorist to know if the tyres were safe or not. And it is a fairly good indicator that the sellers of the tyres are not adhering to the relevant UK regulation. This is made worse by the fact that many used tyres look in relatively shape to the untrained eye and many actually meet several of the standards set out in the MVTRA. A tyre may have plenty of tread and glossy black rubber, but if it has been constantly driven up curbs, under inflated or involved in accidents its safety is completely compromised. Without proper markings, this history is completely invisible.
This is important, because driving on under inflated tyres causes structural damage, which accumulates over time. So every time a motorist drives on the tyres whilst they are under inflated, the damages builds up eventually causing a blowout.
A further danger is due to the fact that most used tyres are fitted without the motorist having had opportunity to inspect it, meaning there is no chance to check for potentially safety hazards on the inner wall. Patching up punctures from the inside without making the necessary repairs to the outer, protective rubber is akin to leaving an open wound on the tyre. As soon as the inner repair job becomes exposed to the road it will be compromised and could cause a blowout.
What many motorists find surprising too is that part worn tyres are often false economy. Whilst purchasing a second-hand tyre may cost half the price of a brand new one, if there is only 3mm of tread left on the thing it is going to wear down in no-time at all. (Remember the minimum legal requirement is 1.6mm). Compare this to a brand new tyre with 8mm of tread and it is easy to see that, despite the greater initial investment, the new tyre will be far greater value for money.
Unfortunately, the part-worn industry is left relatively unchecked despite the fact that rogue dealers face up to £5,000 in fines for selling illegal part-worn tyres. That is why it is imperative to buy tyres through a trusted retailer or mobile tyre fitters such as www.bktyres.co.uk. These companies will sell and fit brand new, quality tyres that come with a guarantee. There is no need to worry about the standard of the tyres and, in many cases, you’ll even save money in the long run.