Part Worn Tyres: What to Look For

August 30th, 2019

The Local Government Association has recently put out a stern warning about the dangers of buying used tyres. They cite figures by the Department of Transport which suggest that 17 people were killed in tyre-related accidents in 2017 – and a further 147 seriously injured.

They recommend that, if you decide to buy second-hand tyres as a cost-cutting measure, you look for the ‘part worn’ stamp. But what is the ‘Part-Worn’ stamp and why does it matter? Let’s take a look.

Is it Illegal to Sell Second-hand Tyres?
There’s nothing inherently criminal about selling tyres that have already been driven on. After all, whenever you buy a second-hand van, you’re buying the second-hand tyres that come with it. Moreover, sometimes vehicles are written off because of faults that have nothing to do with the condition of the tyres, and it’d be wasteful to simply sling them.

With that said, there are laws governing the proper sale of used tyres. These are to be found under a section of the Consumer Protection Act. You can’t sell tyres that have lumps, bulges and scratches in them. The tyre in question needs to also pass an inflation test, and you need to have 2mm of tread across the width of the tyre, all the way around. Note that this is a little bit more than the 1.6mm minimum tread depth; after all, you don’t want to buy a tyre that’s already at the bare minimum.

You’re looking for an ‘E’ mark to be permanently written onto the tyre alongside the words ‘PART WORN’. This should be in letters four millimetres high. If they’re cut into the tyre rather than standing off it, then you should run a mile.

Things get a little bit more complicated if the tyre in question has been re-treaded (a process which effectively creates a new tyre from the old one, with a new depth). It’s EU legislation that governs this, but these rules are likely to still be with us even after we’ve Brexited (assuming that Brexit happens). You should find BS AU 144b, c, d, or e written along the edge of the tyre.

What’s the problem?
We’ve already mentioned the annual fatalities that come about as a result of unsafe tyres. But it’s also worth thinking about the legal penalties you might be faced with. You’re looking at £2,500 fine and three points per tyre. So, if all four of your tyres are found to be faulty, you’ll get twelve points, a £10,000 fine, and lose your ability to drive. For most of the people reading this, this spells the end of a career, and may have even more serious knock-on consequences.

But even if you manage to evade such a fine, you’re still going to have to contend with the prospect of an imminent replacement. Tyres which have been badly treated are unlikely to last very long – and so you’ll end up spending far more money than you’re saving. Better to bite the bullet and look for something that’s legal than to try to cut corners and end up paying for it in a few weeks’ time.

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