Part-Worn Tyres? You Get Much Less Than You Pay For

Scrap tyres in a heapA recent survey by fast-fit chain HiQ found that 35% of motorists are currently choosing to buy part-worn (second-hand) tyres for their cars.

In case you are not familiar with the part-worn tyre market, this means that about a third of motorists are buying used tyres – tyres that have been taken off other cars to be scrapped but instead are being sold to suckers motorists in the UK.

Isn’t That A Bit Harsh?

Perhaps, but I don’t think so. You decide what you think and leave a comment at the end – especially if you’ve used part-worn tyres.

First of all, I agree that times are tough at the moment and many motorists are being forced to reduce the cost of running their cars wherever possible. The problem is that buying second-hand tyres doesn’t really fulfil this requirement – plus it can be dangerous.

There are three main problems with part-worn tyres:

  • Potential for invisible sidewall damage – a serious safety risk;
  • Poor value, when you work out the cost per mile;
  • You get the worst of the tyre’s performance, without getting the best of it first.

Let’s look at these problems a little more closely.


The biggest problem with part-worn tyres is the safety risk they present.

Part-worn tyres are used tyres that have been removed from other cars to be scrapped.

Some part-worn tyres come from accident-damaged cars that have been written off, but the main source of part-worn tyres for the UK market is Germany.

Why Germany? Germans take tyre safety much more seriously than us Brits, and rarely use tyres below 3-4mm of tread depth. Germans also swap tyres twice a year, as winter tyres are compulsory during the winter months.

car tyre treadIf a typical German driver removes summer tyres with 3-4mm of tread left, he will scrap them and buy new ones in the spring. These scrap tyres then become part-worn tyres, ready for resale in the UK.

All this might sound acceptable on paper – but what many people don’t understand is that tyres can have serious structural damage that is not visible. The previous owner of the tyre could have been anyone – the tyre could have been crashed and there could be sidewall damage from under-inflation, punctures or repeated abuse on kerbs and other obstructions.

Another potential problem is age. When tyres get old, the rubber starts to deteriorate and the sidewalls of the tyres can crack, increasing the risk of a blowout. For this reason, it is often necessary to replace old tyres even if they are not worn out. This is especially common on low-mileage vehicles.

When buying a part-worn tyre, it is entirely possible that you will end up with a tyre that is already at the end of its natural lifespan, even though it has enough tread remaining to be legal.

Note: All tyres are marked with a manufacturing date. To learn how to read this, have a look at our Tyre Markings page (near the bottom).

Poor Value: Part-Worns Are Expensive

Of course, the reason people by part-worn tyres is that they appear to be much cheaper than new tyres – part-worns are usually around £15-£20 per tyre.

This seems cheap at first glance, but let’s look at the price in a little more detail. To make this more realistic, I have priced up part-worn tyres and new mid-range tyres for my car and then worked out how much they would cost for each millimetre of usable tread (remaining within the 1.6mm legal limit).

A Goodyear EfficientGrip summer tyre
A new tyre

Part-worn tyres:  £20 per tyre with 4mm tread remaining
Usable tread: 2.4mm
Cost per millimetre of usable tread: £8.33

Mid-range new tyres: £60
Usable tread: 6.4mm (new tyres normally have 8mm tread)
Cost per millimetre of usable tread: £9.37

So far, the part-worn tyres are slightly cheaper – but remember that you will have to pay to have them fitted. Tyre fitting usually costs around £10-£15 per tyre.

That means that for each pair of new tyres, you will have to replace part-worn tyres two or three times. All those extra trips to the fast-fit centre will wipe out any savings you made by buying used tyres, leaving you well out of pocket compared to the cost of buying and fitting a single pair of new tyres.


VW Golf with four new Goodyear EfficientGrip tyresThe final argument against part-worn tyres is this: Even if we assume that the tyres you buy are not damaged and are an equally worn pair, you will still only be getting the last bit of their legal life.

Tyre performance gets noticeably worse when tread depth falls below 3mm, so most of the time you are using it, your part-worn tyre will be giving its last gasp of life, offering substandard braking performance and wet grip. As I found recently, the difference in wet grip between new and part-worn tyres is surprisingly large.

In comparison, if you buy a new tyre, you will get to benefit from its optimum performance before it starts to wear down. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Part-Worn Tyres – Don’t Do It

Part-worn tyres are not a good idea and do not offer particularly good value. They may well have hidden structural damage that will cause them to fail at high speed and are not even particularly cheap when you look at the cost per millimetre of usable tread and factor in the extra tyre fitting costs.

In addition, by buying part-worn tyres, you are getting the tail-end of the tyre’s performance. There is clear proof that tyre performance deteriorates noticeably when tread depth falls below 3mm. This is especially true under heavy braking and in the wet; just when you need grip the most.

I will leave you with one final thought. Environmental disposal of scrap tyres costs £3 per tyre – that’s what tyre fitting centres have to pay to get rid of scrap tyres.

On the other hand, rumour has it that the trade price of a part-worn tyre is £1.50. I’m sure you can see how this provides a powerful incentive for tyre dealers to sell their part-worn tyres instead of scrapping them, whatever condition they are in…

Have you got an opinion on part-worn tyres?  Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

9 thoughts on “Part-Worn Tyres? You Get Much Less Than You Pay For

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  • February 13, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    So lower the price of new tyres then! Some motorists aren’t able to afford ‘new’ tyres with costs upwards of £1000+ per tyre!!! It’s ludicrous! And then you tell us to stop buying used tyres?! Companies should really think twice. They care less about safety of us motorists and more about making their own money. Greedy ppl. Both sides of the spectrum; those that sell part used and those that sell brand new. It is still day light robbery with either one you choose!

    • February 13, 2017 at 3:12 pm


      Thanks for your comment. New tyres are obviously more expensive than used tyres, but no one needs to own a car which requires £1,000 tyres or even £100 tyres.

      For example, you can buy good quality, branded tyres for a Ford Fiesta or Ford Focus sizd car for under £60 per tyre, fitted (e.g. 205/55/16 on

      The problem with buying used tyres (apart from the safety risks) is that fitting costs are the same as for new tyres, but used tyres wear out much more quickly. It might take 2-3 set of used tyres to do the same mileage as one set of new tyres. That’s a lot of extra fitting costs, at perhaps £10 per tyre.

      However, I suspect your point is that car manufacturers and tyre companies seem to conspire to fit expensive, short-lived low profile tyres on many new cars. I agree with you on this.

      The normal scenario is very large rim sizes with low profile tyres that wear out very fast. These have become fashionable but often don’t help the ride and are much more expensive to replace than more ‘sensible’ tyre sizes.

      For motorists who are keen to reduce running costs (and improve ride quality), it’s worth being aware of this potential cost when you buy a new car. In my opinion it very rarely makes sense to upgrade to a larger tyre size. It’s often more sensible to downgrade one size if you can.



  • April 13, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    My name is Paterson Ngatchou and I´m looking for cheapest used tyres for Africa. for a 20´to start.
    Can i have the price for the following size:

    255/75 x15
    31.10/50 x 15
    700R / 15
    750 R / 15
    265/ 70 x 15
    all the dimersions ins 14 and 13.


  • March 29, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    i am looking for 2 part worn tyres size 24570rx16

  • August 27, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    well the garage that I know supplies god quality german imported tyres that are in very good condition 2 tyres including fitting and balance for £50.
    no way that’s poor value.for smaller used cars it makes much sense even the cheapest budget Chinese new tyres will cost twive at least.

    • August 28, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      Hi Adrian,

      I agree that you’re getting better quality tyres than you would otherwise for this amount of money.

      But they are already partly worn, I’m guessing with perhaps 3mm-5mm of tread left. There’s much less wear left than with a new tyre, but you’re still paying the same fitting price as for a new tyre. You’ll probably need to replace them again sooner than you might with new tyres.

      Plus you still don’t really know about the history of the tyres. Have they got hidden damage? It’s hard to be sure.



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