Motorists are being urged not to leave their safety to chance by trying to skimp on tyres. While it can be tempting to go for cheap tyres, drivers could be putting themselves at risk because some dealers are providing sub-standard products.
The warning has been issued by road safety charity TyreSafe 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.
If that wasn't bad enough, 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, TyreSafe said. It paints a worrying picture of part-worn tyres in the south-west, but the warning applies to all parts of the UK.
"The results of the latest investigation once again emphasise the hidden dangers associated with buying part worn tyres," explains Stuart Jackson, chairman at 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. Part-worn 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 drivers and other road users, 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," added Mr Gray, who suggests that anyone who has been sold a defective tyre should report it immediately.
In the investigation carried out by Bristol Trading Standards, not one tyre met all of these requirements, meaning each one was being sold illegally. A similar investigation carried out by TyreSafe last year on a much larger sample of 50 tyres bought nationwide found 98 per cent were being sold illegally and even included one which was described by the examiner as "having the potential to kill." Taken together, the surveys suggest that most UK dealers selling used tyres are failing to carry out the necessary checks.
In addition, the used tyres are not even worth it financially when you look at the figures. The part worn tyres in TyreSafe's original investigation were 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," added Mr 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."
Drivers should always buy their tyres from approved dealers and use skilled technicians to fit them. Failing to do so could be dangerous.
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Posted by Danielle Barge