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Black round with a hole in the middle

 That's not all you get when you buy second hand tyres.

I've just read the part worn tyre article that has been recently produced by Auto Express and TyreSafe and as I don't need much encouragement to share my thoughts on second hand and defective tyres, I thought I would! 

The two groups have teamed up to investigate the sale and condition of part worn tyres. A staggering 98% of the tyres they tested were illegal! Defects ranged from structural damage to bodged puncture repairs with a rusty nail thrown in for good measure. 33% of the 50 tyre sample group had serious structural damage, a number of which were not visible to the naked eye.

It would be interesting to find out who would be responsible for a defective tyre fitted to a vehicle. As it is the drivers responsibility to ensure roadworthiness of a vehicle, my guess would be that the buck stops there, and then starts again when you have to pay a £2500 fine and receive 3 points on your licence. There are also insurance issues, the Road Traffic Act requires a vehicle to be in a road worthy condition and you fit second hand, non compliant tyres (98% of the sample group were illegal), does this fit the description of contributory negligence? In 2010 there were 10,475 court convictions for driving on defective tyres in the UK. 10,475, and they were only the ones caught! This figure doesn't just count part worn tyres, but defective tyres in general. 

What I find incredible is the lack of action from the likes of eBay (half of the sample group were sourced from the site), Office of fair trading or Trading standards. Where does responsibility lie for traders breaking the law? Does someone need to be killed before action is taken? There are very clear and specific regulations * for the sale and supply of part worn tyres, yet these are not being enforced. 

There are a number of good part worn dealers, I say good because there are records of only 2 x-ray machine for inspecting tyre casings ever being sold in the UK. If there are no x-rays being carried out on tyres, how can it be sold as tested and examined? How many part worn dealers are issuing receipts? How many are following the fitment policy on the car? I saw a car the other day with 3 different tyre sizes one of them being a winter pattern! A large proportion of these dealers are out to make money from old rope, your safety and that of other road users is not on their mind. In fact, how many of these dealers are actually operating as businesses. The sale and supply of goods act only offers protection when making purchases from someone acting in the course of a business. Man in shed doing jobs for cash = no protection for you. There is also a general recognition in law that when purchasing second hand goods, the price paid reflects the risk in taking ownership of something with an increased likelihood of it failing. My point is you will have very little consumer protection when the part worn tyre fails.

In the grand scheme of operating a car the tyre is not expensive. The UK average for tyre replacement is one tyre per car per year. A premium tyre in 205/55/16/V (the most common size in the UK) can be fully fitted for £100. The tyre is a hugely complex life saving piece of equipment, ABS, traction control, steering will only be effective if the 4 small pieces of rubber that are in contact with the road function correctly. Fit part worns and you are putting lives at risk, and to achieve what? Save £20 over a year. 

Ok, let's wrap it up. If nothing else, just remember that these tyres have been thrown away. They are other peoples waste and there is a reason why they have been thrown away. If you choose to fit them, drive accordingly, by that I mean leave an increased safety margin all the time. These tyres will not perform at an optimum level and will let you down when you need them the most, usually in an emergency situation.

"You pays your money and you takes your chances".

Please don't crash into anyone else though.

*The Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994 SI No. 3117


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Our certified tyre expert Bertie has over 30 years of retail experience, having worked his way up from shop floor, to head office, and shares a HiQ passion for burning rubber! continue reading



12th September 2014

I worked for a part worn tyre company , tyres had side wall repairs and even the car dealers put part worn tyres on before selling the car!!

Dealers even asked for no side wall repairs.... personally i wasnt happy selling such tyres and the owner and my boss knew this!

But on the same note like Mark says up a bove when you buy a second hand car how do you know the tyres history??



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Mark Pitchford

4th December 2012

As much as I agree with the comments you make, it does raise the question of buying second hand cars at which time you are also buying 4 or 5 part worn tyres too. You never have any information at all about their provenance and yet no-one ever suggests that you should replace them all. Admittedly, a second had tyre is more likely to have been in an accident - after all, most tyres stay on the car they are bought for - but there are no guarantees that your second hand pride and joy wasn't fitted with part worn tyres the week before you took delivery. So - where do you draw the line?

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