The dangers of part-worn tyres

Everyone loves a bargain, but is it worth risking your safety? 

Part-worn tyres can seem like a cost-effective way to replace your vehicle’s tyres. But when you consider the dangers they could pose for yourself and other drivers, it’s not a risk worth taking. 

We recommend that motorists buy new tyres rather than risking their safety. Read on to find out why.

Is it illegal to buy part-worn tyres?

It isn’t currently illegal to sell part-worn tyres in the UK. 

There are some strict rules that sellers should follow when they sell them. But, unfortunately, many sellers ignore these rules. Trading Standards dictate that all part-worn tyres:

  • Have an ECE approval mark and a speed and load capacity index
  • Are marked with 'PART-WORN' in upper case letters at least 4mm high
  • Don’t have a cut over 25mm or 10% of the section width of the tyre
  • Don’t have any internal or external lumps, bulges or tears
  • Don’t have any ply or cord exposed
  • Don’t have any unrepaired penetration damage
  • Have an original tread pattern that’s at least 2mm deep

The sale of part-worn tyres in the UK is an ongoing issue, with some garages selling tyres that don’t come close to meeting the criteria above. Although the cost may be attractive, the dangers that they pose are significant. 

That’s why The Green Flag Shop only sells high-quality, new tyres from reputable manufacturers, giving you peace of mind when you’re on the road.

Where do part-worn tyres come from?

Worryingly, a lot of part-worn tyres have unknown origins, making it impossible to find out their history. A part-worn tyre could have suffered a puncture in the past, or have irreparable damage that could cut its lifespan. Whatever the history, good or bad, you’ll just never know. 

A lot of part-worn tyres in the UK are shipped over from other European countries such as Germany, where the legal tyre limit is lower. During their transport to the UK, they are stacked high in shipping containers, instead of being properly stored flat in a well-ventilated area. The humid conditions of the shipping containers can even decrease the lifespan of these tyres even further.  

How can you spot a part-worn tyre?

So, things aren’t looking great for part-worn tyres. The only question now is how can you spot them?

One of the first things to look for when identifying a part-worn tyre is the tyre depth. A brand new tyre will have an average tyre depth of 8mm, whereas a part-worn tyre has an average of 3-4mm. Some part-worn tyres have even been found to have a 2mm tyre tread, meaning there’s only 0.4mm of useable tread left in the tyre before it’s illegal.

Tyre tread is vital when driving in wet conditions, as the tread and the pattern dispense water from between the tyre and the road surface. With a low tyre depth, water gets trapped between the tyre and the road, often leading to aquaplaning and a loss of control of the vehicle. 

To get an idea of just how big an impact it can have, the braking distance when travelling at 50mph on wet roads for a new tyre with 8mm of tread is around 26 metres, compared to 38 meters for a tyre on the legal limit.

If you need new tyres, don’t be tempted by the price of used, part-worn tyres. It’s never worth the risk to yourself and other motorists. But, if you’re on a tight budget, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. You can find quality new tyres, at prices that won’t make you slam on the brakes, here on The Green Flag Shop. 

Looking for more information about the quality of your tyres? Check out our guide to understand tyre labelling