Disreputable traders, illegal tyres – association shares part-worn experiences

Disreputable traders, illegal tyres – association shares part-worn experiences

Although the National Tyre Distributors’ Association would like to see them banned and TyreSafe implores motorists not to buy these products, around 4.5 million part-worn tyres are sold in the UK each year. The Local Government Association (LGA) has now also highlighted some of its members’ experiences with the sellers of used tyres, and cautions motorists to exercise caution when buying.

The LGA, which acts as a mouthpiece to more than 370 councils in England and Wales, opines that attempting to save money by purchasing used tyres could be “dicing with death.” In a statement issued 21 January, the LGA wrote that a clear majority of the used tyres sold in some areas were illegal. On one occasion, a council Trading Standards team found a 23 year old tyre on sale, while other teams encountered tyres with “serious safety defects, unsafe repairs and incorrect labelling.”

While the LGA stops short of recommending motorists avoid second-hand tyres entirely, it urges them to examine the tyres’ condition prior to purchase and make sure they bear the required ‘PART-WORN’ tyre marking. It also suggests that a new budget tyre may be a better option for those shopping on a shoestring.

This part-worn featured a large bulge on its sidewall

“Cheap part-worn tyres might be tempting to buy, but if they don’t have the correct legal markings, motorists risk buying illegal tyres which could contribute to a major accident,” comments Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board. “Motorists buying used tyres should go to a reputable trader and check they have ‘PART-WORN’ stamped on them, as without this mark they are unlikely to have been checked and the retailer is breaking the law. They should also look out for any cracks, tears, and lumps and check the state of the thread before buying.

“It’s also worth looking at how good a deal used tyres offer,” Blackburn adds. “New tyres are available to suit all budgets, provide a safer option and should last longer, meaning they may offer better value for money in the long term.”

The LGA’s warning follows recent operations by council Trading Standards teams. They include:

Brent and Harrow Trading Standards officers found that only two of 12 used tyres bought from a dozen different traders met legally acceptable standards, while at least six tyres contained defects that could pose a serious safety risk if they were put back on a car.

Durham County Council officers found that only one of 39 tyres stocked at various dealers bore the required ‘PART-WORN’ tyre marking, with 25 tyres having problems that could impair safety. Ten tyres had unsafe repairs, nine were over ten years old and one was 23 years old.

Enfield Trading Standards bought several part-worn tyres from local businesses and found half of them to be unsafe, with 83 per cent of the tyres sold without the required ‘PART-WORN’ stamp being applied.

TyreSafe: For safety’s sake, don’t buy part-worns

Damaged car tyreThe LGA’s warning and advice has prompted TyreSafe to again urge motorists to be “extremely vigilant if considering used and not new tyres.” A statement issued by the association this morning provides information about recent investigations in which TyreSafe was involved, and what it says isn’t good for part-worn tyre buyers.

Only four of the 67 used tyres inspected during the investigation were sold in compliance with legal regulations. Of the remainder, 58 per cent were found to contain defects that impaired their safety, including poor repairs, structural damage and age-related deterioration. In two operations where tyres were fitted directly to the vehicle, all four used tyres supplied by the retailers were of the wrong specification and mixed tread patterns were fitted on the same axle, potentially compromising cornering and braking.

The inspections were carried out as part of joint operations with Trading Standards and the National Tyre Distributors’ Association (NTDA) and led to either conviction or formal guidance being issued to the 19 part worn dealers involved across the country.

The law and part-worn tyres

The sale of used tyres is controlled by The Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994 Act (reg.7), which is part of the Consumer Protection Act. It is an offence for anyone to sell part-worn tyres that do not meet the following requirements:

Have an EC approval mark and a speed and load capacity index

Be marked with ‘PART-WORN’ in upper case letters at least 4mm high

Not have a cut over 25mm or 10 per cent of the section width of the tyre

Not have any internal or external lump, bulge or tear

Not have any ply or cord exposed

Not have any penetration damage that has not been repaired

The original tread pattern of the tyre must be at least 2mm deep

Since its inception in 2006, TyreSafe has campaigned to raise awareness of the potential posed by part-worn tyres. The association considers the dearth of information about a used tyre’s past history and the “widely varying levels of competency among part-worn retailers” a safety risk. It also points out that these tyres “typically represent a false economy” – TyreSafe examined the comparative lifetime cost of new and part-worn tyres with Auto Express in 2012, and in more than half the sizes examined found buying brand new tyres to be better value.

“The extent of non-compliance and incompetence among dealers selling part worn tyres represents a significant risk to road safety,” says TyreSafe chairman Stuart Jackson. “Motorists depend on tyre dealers to supply and fit this safety critical component in a roadworthy and legal condition, but are instead being duped into buying a product which could potentially be life-threatening. Even if sold legally, TyreSafe urges Britain’s motorists not to buy part worn tyres for the sake of their own safety and other road users.”

Stefan Hay, chief executive of the NTDA, adds: “The evidence from investigations consistently demonstrates that ‘business as usual’ in the part-worn sector is typically summarised as selling on illegal and dangerous products, and appalling trading practises. While some retailers may be operating in compliance with the clearly laid out regulations, they seem to be the exception and not the norm – that should be a clear warning to anyone considering buying part-worns. In the absence of meaningful enforcement of the existing legislation, the NTDA will continue to press for a complete ban on the sale of used tyres.”


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