A Guide to the Pros and Cons of Buying Part-Worn Tyres

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What You Need to Know

  1. Part-worn tyres are tyres that have been used before and so have been worn down. Some have been used to drive several thousand miles before they are sold on.
  2. Remember that tyres are usually taken off cars for a reason. If they’re not safe enough for another driver, why should they be safe enough for you to use?
  3. By law, all part-worn tyres need to be clearly labelled as such, so be wary of any dealers who don’t comply with this rule.
  4. Compared to the cost of a set of brand-new tyres, used tyres offer significant savings, often amounting to several hundred pounds.
  5. Opting for part-worn tyres is also a good way of getting hold of top-end tyres, such as those produced by the likes of Pirelli and Dunlop Goodyear, for a fraction of the price they cost new.
  6. Buying used tyres can help cut down on waste. Fewer tyres being produced means less fossil fuel being used.
  7. Just as when buying a second hand car, always be wary of unscrupulous dealers. If a deal on tyres looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  8. Driving on dangerously worn tyres can and invalidate your car insurance, lead to fines of up to £10,000 and as many as 12 penalty points.

What Are Part-Worn Tyres?

Put simply, part-worn tyres are tyres that have been used before and so have been worn down. While the extent to which they have been used can vary greatly – with some having been used to drive several thousand miles before being sold on – generally speaking, they will have lost a large amount of their grip.

Given that good tyres are a key safety feature on every car and can in fact be a lifesaver, it’s worth taking your time to weigh up the advantages of opting for part-worn tyres over a new set against the potential drawbacks of going for the cheaper option.

Advantages of Part-Worn Tyres

Upfront Savings: The main attraction of part-worn tyres is the financial savings on offer. Compared to the cost of a set of buying new tyres, used tyres offer significant savings, often amounting to several hundred pounds. Opting for part-worn tyres is also a good way of getting hold of top-end tyres, such as those produced by the likes of Pirelli and Dunlop Goodyear, for a fraction of the price they cost new.

Rules and Regulations: Just as with buying a used car, you need to be sure of the integrity of the seller when purchasing part-worn tyres. The market for used, part-worn tyres is not completely unregulated, though it is still a good idea to buy through a reputable dealer rather than from an unknown seller. Under UK law, all tyres, no matter how old, must have a minimum tread depth of 2mm. Additionally, they should also have ‘part-worn’ clearly labelled on them. Also be aware that any cuts on a tyre’s surface should not exceed 25mm in length and there should be no visible tears. Though not covered by any fixed laws, it’s still a good idea to steer clear of tyres with visible bulges in the rubber. As this video from www.tyresafe.org demonstrates, damaged part worn tyres have the potential to cause fatal accidents.

Environmental Concerns: Many eco-conscious drivers opt for part-worn tyres for environmental rather than financial reasons. Put simply, buying used tyres can help cut down on waste. Fewer tyres being produced means less fossil fuel being used, while also helping address the pressing problem of ‘used tyre mountains’.

Potential Downsides to Part-Worn Tyres

Wear and Tear: The risks involved in fitting part-worn tyres to your car are only too obvious. They can offer less grip than new tyres, giving you less control and affecting your ability to brake in the event of an emergency, thereby placing both yourself and your passengers, as well as other road users at risk. Savvy motorists should be able to assess how road-worthy a used tyre is, though if you have no experience, it’s recommended that you always buy from a respected dealer.

Value for Money: The main attraction of part-worn tyres is, of course, the financial savings they offer. Indeed, compared to fitting a set of brand-new tyres, going for the used option can deliver savings of several hundred pounds. However, such short-term savings may be offset by the fact that part-worn tyres will need replacing much sooner than a brand new set would, so it’s worth bearing this in mind when weighing up the pros and cons. Many drivers opt to use the money they save on tyres to improve other parts of their car.

Unscrupulous Dealers: In the summer of 2012, Birmingham Trading Standards carried out a study which found that 90% of the part-worn tyres its officers found for sale failed to meet the minimum legal safety requirements. While bigger dealers offer extra peace of mind since they are more likely to stick to the rules and regulations, smaller, less scrupulous dealers may bend – or even break – the rules in pursuit of a sale. So, always give a tyre a thorough once-over before parting with any money and remember that if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Legal Penalties:Remember, there can be serious repercussions for driving on unsafe tyres. As well as invalidating your car insurance in the case of an accident, if caught, you could be fined £2,500 and awarded three penalty points for every tyre on your car that fail's to meet legal standards. If you were using a complete set of overly worn tyres you would, therefore, receive 12 points (which translates into a driving ban of at least six months) all in one fell swoop.

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