Published on: Monday, 8th April 2019 | Author: Tyre Pros
Maintaining your car properly costs money, there’s no getting away from it. If something needs replacing, you’ll have to dip into your savings and get it sorted for the good of your car and your safety. For some things, like tyres, it’s a legal requirement to keep them in roadworthy condition and replace them when they become too worn.Maintaining your car properly costs money, there’s no getting away from it. If something needs replacing, you’ll have to dip into your savings and get it sorted for the good of your car and your safety. For some things, like tyres, it’s a legal requirement to keep them in roadworthy condition and replace them when they become too worn.
When money is tight, it’s understandable that you’ll look for ways to save. This is why many people consider getting part-worn rather than new tyres. These are tyres that have already been on another car and have been used, but which still have some tread depth left above the legally required minimum. They’re usually cheaper than new tyres, but are part-worn tyres legal and safe? Should you avoid the risk altogether and just buy new tyres? Take a look below at our guide to part-worn tyres and whether you should use them.
Part worn tyres- are they legal?
Businesses selling part-worn tyres, also known as second-hand tyres, aren’t breaking the law. It isn’t illegal to sell or to use them in the UK, and many millions of part-worn tyres are sold every year. However, someone selling part-worn tyres must adhere to very strict regulations on the condition of the tyres and how they are labelled and sold. For example, they must be clearly labelled as part-worn, have a certain tread depth and be in good condition.
Despite these regulations being in place, not all companies selling part-worn tyres adhere to the law. In fact, according to research by Trading Standards and safety campaigner TyreSafe, the majority of UK part-worn tyre retailers aren’t meeting legal requirements. Of 152 outlets that were tested, just 13 met the requirements.
If you do buy part-worn tyres, you’ll need to shop extremely carefully. Don’t take anything at face value and don’t be afraid to ask questions and do your own checks. Ask the retailer to verify that the tyre meets the regulations, and walk away if you aren’t persuaded.
Check the tread depth yourself, on all the tyres at all points around the circumference of the tyres. It should be at least 2mm, but it’s really not recommended to buy tyres that are only just above the legal tread depth minimum of 1.6mm. The tyres should be clearly labelled as part-worn - this should be permanently marked on their sidewalls in upper case letters.
Lastly, make sure there is no structural damage to the tyre and that it’s in good condition. There should be no cuts in the tread or bulges in the sidewall, and you shouldn’t be able to see any of the structural cords or carcass. If in doubt, don’t buy.
The pros and cons of second-hand tyres
There are some advantages to buying part-worn tyres. They are cheaper than new tyres, which means that some motorists may be able to afford higher quality, better brand products than they would normally. Many are also imported from Germany, where the minimum legal tread depth is greater than in the UK. This means that these tyres may have more wear left in them. There’s also the consideration that many of us buy second-hand cars and don’t change the tyres. This means that in effect, we’re driving around with part-worn tyres anyway.
All of these factors aside, it’s time to think about the very serious drawback that can come with buying part-worn tyres. It’s all about safety. Start by asking yourself - why have the tyres been removed from the previous vehicle? It could be that the driver no longer considered them safe, or they could have been in an accident where they are likely to have sustained damage.
There’s also the fact that, as the Trading Standards and TyreSafe research revealed, you can’t always trust the retailers you’re buying part-worn tyres from. The tyres may not meet minimum standards, or they could even be dangerous. Even a tyre that passes the checks may still have a potentially dangerous secret, which is something that just won’t happen with a brand new tyre.
Why tread depth is so important
Tread depth is what gives your tyres traction and grip on the road, giving you more control especially in wet or harsh weather conditions. There’s a legal minimum tread depth (1.6mm) for a reason, because tyres that fall below this are unsafe to use on the roads. An overly worn tyre is an accident waiting to happen. Is it worth the risk?
Are part worn tyres a false economy?
This is another very important question to ask yourself when searching for replacement tyres. If you take a chance and buy part-worn tyres now, you’ll save some money - but will you end up replacing your tyres again in just a year or so?
New tyres come with as much as 8mm of tread to play with, whereas part-worn tyres could be only just over the legal minimum, and that’s if you trust the retailer to have met the legal requirements. You’ll spend more on new tyres for sure, but you could end up spending more having to replace second-hand ones perhaps several times over. New tyres will also give you better fuel economy and performance too. If you drive carefully and maintain them well, they could last you for years.
So, are part-worn tyres worth it?
Money aside, think about your safety and the safety of other road users. If you have a car, you’re responsible for maintaining it. This means, as difficult as it can be to raid your savings for new tyres, paying out for a good quality product that meets safety standards and performs properly.
If you could be 100% sure, or the retailer could offer a proper guarantee that their part-worn tyres were safe to use, you could consider it. Unfortunately though, this isn’t always the case and a lot of second-hand tyres aren’t meeting the minimum standards.
Experts believe that tyres are the one part of car maintenance that you absolutely shouldn’t skimp on. The tyres are the only part of the car that makes contact with the road, so they’re extremely important.