There are some UK motorists who think that they can save themselves a little money through buying part worn tyres. Sure, initially they’re cheaper, but if the price seems too good to be true then it usually is. Down the line there’s a price to pay, and it could be your life.
If you’re not familiar with them, part worn tyres are – as the name suggests – effectively second-hand tyres. That’s right, they’ve been used before by a complete stranger. As a result, they’re already partly worn down, before you’ve even had them fitted to your car. And that means they don’t have the same level of tread depth you get with new tyres.
Why is tread depth so important?
With a set of brand-new tyres, each one has 8mm of tread depth. This is vital for providing you with the grip you need to drive safely and stop quickly. This is especially true in wet weather conditions, when the tyre tread ‘grooves’ expel water from between the tyre ‘contact patch’ and the road surface, generating the grip you need.
Gradually, however, tyre tread wears down and – as they do – their ability to grip diminishes. This is known as normal tyre wear, and once they’re down to 3mm they are approximately 80% worn. This represents a significant reduction in the tyre’s original capacity to grip. So imagine how alarming it is to fit already used part worn tyres, many of which are sold with as little as 2mm of tread depth…
Where do part worn tyres come from?
Most part worns are imported from Germany. This is because the majority of German drivers take the advice of tyre experts and replace them when the tread gets down to just 3mm. They do this despite the road legal minimum tread depth being – as in the UK – 1.6mm. Why? Because it’s been proven that once tyre tread depth is down to 3mm, they deteriorate very fast, resulting in less and less grip.
So part worn tyres are legal, but are they safe?
No, they’re not. Says who? Every tyre safety expert in the world – from government departments to tyre retailers, including Asda Tyres.
As previously outlined, the remaining tread depth typically found on part worn tyres leaves drivers at risk of failing to grip the road sufficiently, and this means – especially in wet weather conditions – longer stopping distances, which increases the chance of collisions. A lack of grip also means a lack of control, particularly in the case of having to swerve suddenly. Safely cornering at high speeds is also compromised, with the risk of sliding off the road increased due to a lack of sufficient grip.
When you buy a set of part worn tyres, with their diminished tread depth, this is the point when they start their new life with you…
Tyre tread depth and wear comparison
– 8mm: Tyre is 0% worn. Very good.
– 7mm: Approximately 15% worn.
– 6mm: About 30% worn.
– 5mm: Around 45-50% worn. Okay.
– 4mm: Tyre is approximately 65% worn. Acceptable.
– 3mm: Tyre is nearly 80% worn. Replace asap.
– 2mm: Tyre is 95% worn. Extremely worrying!
– 1.6mm: The tyre is now at its minimum legal limit, and should be replaced now!
– Under 1.6mm: Illegal!
If you are found to be driving on tyres below the UK minimum legal limit of 1.6 mm, you will be prosecuted and if convicted be liable to fines of up to £2,500 and 3 points on your licence PER TYRE. All of a sudden, part worn tyres aren’t the bargain they originally appeared to be.
The vast majority of part worn tyres are illegal
In the UK, selling part worns is governed by strict regulations, but the reality is that it’s way too easy for unscupulous traders to get around the rules. This puts all motorists at risk.
TyreSafe – the UK charity organisation that campaigns for better tyre safety, and of which Asda Tyres is a member – undertook a survey and found that only 6% of the part worn tyres they inspected were being sold to consumers in compliance with the law. Furthermore, a very alarming 58% of them were found to have “defects impairing their safety, including poor repairs, structural damage and age-related deterioration”.
TyreSafe’s findings also identified another very serious concern. They found that the quality of fitting undertaken with part worn tyres was alarming. If the wrong tyre specification is fitted to a vehicle – tyre size, mixed tread patterns on the same axle, incorrect load index and speed rating – it significantly affects both the ability to safely corner and brake. The evidence TyreSafe found suggests that this – as well as other serious malpractice – is common throughout the UK. It’s a very worry revelation, and at the heart of why tyre experts recommend you avoid part worn tyres.
Mark Griffiths, Safety Expert at Continental Tyres says “Part worn tyres may look too good to be true and that is often the case, as the TyreSafe investigation shows. Continental’s Vision Zero initiative is about putting safety at the heart of all decisions to do with driving, and we would advise anyone looking to replace tyres to purchase brand new premium quality tyres from a reputable dealer for the sake of safety for all road users.”
Part worns – both dangerous and a false economy
With money often being tight, it’s clear why some motorists choose to gamble on part worns. To the unknowing, part worn tyres appear to be cheap – a bargain – and perhaps a solution in the short-term, such as when needing to pass an MOT (though in fact it doesn’t always work out to be the case).
The reality however is quite different. The truth is that they’re a false economy, simply because by the time they’re fitted – second hand – they’re already down to a very low level of tread depth, and – as previously highlighted – they rapidly degrade. As a result, they’ll quickly wear down – potentially to less than the UK legal minimum – and simply need replacing again, sooner rather than later.
And don’t forget, there’s also the threat of a £2,500 fine and 3 points on your licence PER TYRE if you’re caught driving with illegal tyres.
Speak to the experts about part worn tyres
The truth is – all things considered – part worn tyres should be avoided. They’re not worth jeopardising your driver safety for. At best you’ll get lucky with a retailer who’s correctly followed the regulations and also fitted them correctly, but ultimately the they’re not safe and certainly won’t last. If you’re in any doubt about part worns, speak to the experts at Asda Tyres. We can provide you with experienced, impartial tyre advice. Click here to live chat to one of our experts, or find your nearest fitting station.