West Country drivers at risk from illegal part worn tyres


The warning has been issued by TyreSafe, a not-for-profit road safety organisation, following an independent investigation by Bristol Trading Standards officers. With independent funding from the National Tyre Distributors Association, the team purchased ten part worn tyres from retailers across the city, which were all subsequently inspected and found to be sold illegally as they failed to meet all relevant regulations.

Furthermore, tyres in the sample were also found to contain serious safety breaches and levels of neglect which could have resulted in their catastrophic failure, had they been fitted to a vehicle.

“The results of the latest investigation once again emphasise the hidden dangers associated with buying part worn tyres,” explains Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “A very clear set of regulations exist to control the legal sale of used tyres but as we’ve seen time and time before, these are not being adhered to. As a result, drivers are taking a massive gamble with their lives if they decide to buy and fit these.”

While it is not illegal for used tyres to be sold by retailers, they must adhere to a number of regulations relating to their condition before offering them for sale. Among the requirements needed for compliance are that the tyres must have undergone a thorough inspection, been pressure tested, have at least 2mm of tread depth and be permanently marked as part worn tyres.

Dean Gray, Trading Standards Investigator for Bristol City Council said, “People can buy second hand tyres without any problems but we have seen some horrific cases, including a tyre sold, as new but which was in fact sixteen years old and blew up on the motorway the day after. For the safety of consumers it is essential that the vendor follows legislation and checks for damage, illegal repairs and properly marks the tyre as part worn. A few simple checks could save someone’s life. If people feel they have been sold a defective tyre they can report it on 08454 040506.”

In the investigation carried out by Bristol Trading Standards, not one tyre met all of these requirements meaning they were all sold illegally. The results echo a similar investigation carried out by TyreSafe last year on a much larger sample of 50 tyres bought nationwide which found 98 percent were being sold illegally and even included one which was described by the examiner as “having the potential to kill.”

Furthermore, the part worn tyres in TyreSafe’s original investigation were also found to offer poor value for money when compared with brand new tyres. The average cost per mm of useable tread for the part worn tyres was calculated to be £6.33 whereas for comparable new tyres, the cost was significantly lower at just £5.32.

“We commend Bristol Trading Standards in looking into this and would urge other councils to do similar as there is growing evidence that the sale of illegal part worn tyres is a widespread problem across the whole country,” adds Jackson. “We understand that drivers continue to be squeezed by rising running costs, but when replacing your tyres, in our opinion, the safest and most economical option is to always fit brand new tyres.”

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