The worrying findings have been issued by TyreSafe, the UKs leading tyre safety group, who has warned that not only could part worn tyres be a false economy, but they could pose a significant safety hazard to drivers and other road users. In 2008, illegal, under-inflated or defective tyres contributed to the deaths of 34 drivers and the injuries of more than 900 other motorists.
Tyres play a critical role in vehicle safety and consequently, some very strict requirements exist regarding the sale of part worn tyres, warns Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. If part worn tyres are bought from an unreliable source or do not meet the required standards, drivers could be placing themselves and other road users in significant danger. We understand the financial pressures being faced by many motorists but the risks associated with fitting part worn tyres are too high and we would always recommend fitting brand new tyres.
One of TyreSafes primary concerns with part worn tyres relates to the internal structure of the tyre. Regulations require that part worns must be free from large cuts, bulges and lumps and must not have any of their plies or cords exposed. However, without a thorough examination of the internal components of the tyre using an x-ray machine, TyreSafe claims it is impossible to tell what unseen damage may have occurred.
There are many internal components of a tyre which are essential for safe motoring, explains Jackson. These can be damaged by a number of things such as punctures, driving over kerbs or pot holes or running at too low pressures. All of these can make the tyre dangerous and unsafe. The visual inspections required to sell part worn tyres may not identify these internal structural problems and consequently divers may be sold a product which is essentially not fit for purpose.
TyreSafes research found that as many as one in six drivers had bought part worn tyres for their car at some point. It also found that younger drivers are much more likely to compromise their safety by buying part worn tyres compared with older drivers. One in five drivers aged between 18-34 said they were more likely to buy part worn tyres compared with 12 months ago, whereas only one in twenty drivers aged over 55 said they were more likely to buy part worns.
Among the many regulations regarding part worn tyres, they must be permanently marked as such. They must also have at least 2mm of tread depth around the whole tyre and the original grooves must be clearly visible in their entirety. Any repairs to the tyre must have been carried out in accordance with British Standards BS AU 159.
Part worn tyres can come from a variety of sources meaning that it is extremely difficult to understand their history. Some are removed from vehicles which have been written off following an accident; others are put back into service having been changed by their original owner; and others arise from situations where drivers switch between a set of summer and winter tyres and choose to refit brand new tyres rather than refitting their old set.
As part of a further investigation into the problems associated with part worn tyres, TyreSafe will be working closely with Trading Standards officers across the UK. For more information about tyre safety or the dangers of part worn tyres, visit www.tyresafe.org.