April 9, 2020

TyreSafe: part worns are unwise alternative to low-cost tyres

The closure of manufacturing facilities due to Coronavirus may reduce the supply of low-cost tyres to Britain, but TyreSafe is advising motorists not to turn to part worns as an alternative.

Low-cost new tyres have become a popular choice in the UK for drivers on a budget and sales run into the millions each year. The vast majority of these are imported into the country from China and across South East Asia where the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to governments closing facilities such as schools and factories to limit the spread.

While stocks currently remain across Britain, it is inevitable these will become scarcer if the current approach to containing the spread of Coronavirus continues. Road safety organisation TyreSafe says it is concerned that this will lead to drivers being tempted by the price tag of part worns.

Of the 252 part worn retailers investigated by TyreSafe and Trading Standards across Britain, 94% were selling tyres illegally. A key requirement those non-compliant part worn tyre sellers failed to comply with is the marking of tyres with the ‘part worn’ stamp. This stamp is critical as it is the only sign the motorist has that the tyre has been inspected before sale.

With nearly two-thirds of the part worn tyres inspected by TyreSafe during these investigations being unsafe to return to the road network, concerns remain over how competent part worn retailers are when undertaking these checks – if they are carried out at all.

In addition to safety concerns, TyreSafe also highlights the value, rather than price tag of a new tyre needs to be seriously considered. The minimum legal limit for a tyre’s tread depth is 1.6mm; a part worn only needs to have 2mm to be sold legally.

Taking into account how many miles a part worn will remain above the legal limit and the inconvenience of having to replace it more regularly, new tyres, even with a higher initial price tag, typically represent far better lifetime value.

Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, said: “Vehicle ownership can push owners’ budgets to the limit and low-cost tyres have safely filled a need for those who have limited funds available to maintain their cars. However, if these owners are not able to find new tyres at this price point, there is a risk they will believe a similarly priced part worn offers the same value. TyreSafe’s investigations prove this is not the case – in our experience, part worn means part safe.

“TyreSafe’s advice is to seek a good deal on a mid-priced tyre and carry out regular checks to get the best out of that tyre over its full potential lifespan. Ensuring air pressure, condition and tread depth are properly maintained on a new tyre will minimise your risks and offer optimal value.”