600,000 reasons not to buy part-worn tyres

Part worn tyre sold with nail in it
This part worn tyre was sold by a UK retailer, complete with rusty nail. Yet if you’d had this tyre fitted to your car, there is a good chance you wouldn’t have spotted it and would have driven away without knowing.

According to a new survey, 600,000 UK drivers found that after fitting part-worn tyres, their car failed its next MOT due to tyre issues.

The survey, by Kwik Fit, only serves to confirm what I’ve written before: part-worn tyres sold in the UK are tyres that have been scrapped by drivers in countries such as Germany, Holland and Denmark.

Why would a tyre that’s only fit to be scrapped in Germany be safe for use in the UK? It’s beyond me — and part-worn tyres aren’t cheap enough to justify the risk, either.

Another survey, carried out by tyre safety charity TyreSafe, found that the average cost per usable mm of tread was £6.33 for part-worn tyres, compared to just £5.52 per mm for new tyres — in other words, new tyres are 16% cheaper per mm of tread.

Aside from the risk of driving on dangerous or illegal tyres, another downside of buying part-worn is that you have to pay tyre fitting charges — perhaps £10 per tyre — much more frequently than you would with new tyres.

Part illegal?

Part worn tyre mark (courtesy of Micheldever Tyre Services)
All part worn tyres should be marked accordingly (courtesy of Micheldever Tyre Services)

Both TyreSafe and Kwik Fit have found that a great number of part-worn tyres sold in the UK appear to be damaged or excessively worn — to the point where many are being sold illegally.

TyreSafe found that 34% of the 817 tyres it purchased in a mystery shopper exercise in conjunction with Trading Standards over the last year “contained faults or damage which meant that they should not have been offered for sale“. A whopping 97% had not been marked by retailers as part-worn — a legal requirement before sale.

Kwik Fit’s survey backed up the TyreSafe results, with one million drivers (this figure is extrapolated from Kwik Fit’s survey result) believing that their part-worn tyres failed because of damage that was already present when they bought the tyres.

An incredible 475,000 even believed that they had a collision as a result of the lack of grip on their part-worn tyres.

Although it’s impossible to verify this figure, the TyreSafe mystery shopper exercise is reliable and highlights a dangerous problem in the car tyre market.

British drivers, for some reason, appear to have an incredibly casual attitude to tyre safety, compared to drivers in some other Northern European countries.

With sharp operators selling junk tyres to cash-strapped motorists, road safety is only likely to get worse.

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