Motorists across Britain are being warned to avoid buying part-worn tyres at all costs, or risk causing death on the roads. The National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) is calling for a complete ban on the sale of part-worn tyres in the wake of its shocking new independent research showing two thirds (65%) of motorists who admit to buying part-worn tyres do so because they are the cheapest option – despite the fact that as many as 97% of all part worn tyres are being sold illegally1.

While the Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994 govern the sale of part-worn tyres, the NTDA say these are rarely being adhered to, allowing unsafe and illegal tyres to flood the UK’s part worn tyre market. Inspections carried out over several years into the sale of part-worn tyres show serious safety breaches, including dangerous and unsafe repairs, exposed cords, bead damage and evidence of runflat damage1. The NTDA has been instrumental in helping Trading Standards prosecute traders who illegally sold defective part-worn tyres, but the Association’s latest research shows economic factors are pulling some motorists towards what they think will be a bargain.

Defective tyres are a major safety risk in vehicles; in 2015 illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were responsible for more than 40% of all vehicle defect-related deaths in the UK. Additionally having illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres was also responsible for 35% of all casualties on the roads caused by vehicle defects.2

The NTDA’s latest motorists’ survey showed an alarming lack of concern for tyre safety. Almost 60% of those surveyed were not aware that the minimum legal tread depth for a tyre in the UK is 1.6mm and more than four fifths (85%) didn’t know the minimum tread depth for part-worn tyres is 2mm.

Two fifths (40%) of drivers also divulged they only check their tyres’ tread when they see worn patches or at MOT time. Worryingly, 38% say they begrudge buying new tyres, will put it off and try and get as much wear out of them as possible before getting them replaced. When they do purchase a replacement tyre, more than half (54%) admit cost is the prevailing consideration.

Experts also warn that buying part-worn tyres is a false economy. A typical part-worn tyre will have around 3mm of tread. The legal minimum is 1.6mm, meaning that tyre will only have about 1.4mm of usable tread, equating to 4,000 miles of motoring. A new tyre typically has 8mm of tread –6.4mm of legal tread and 18,000 miles of driving.3

Stefan Hay, Chief Executive at the NTDA comments: “It’s incredibly alarming that so many motorists are choosing to purchase part-worn tyres because they are cheap, despite the distinct possibility that these could be illegal, putting themselves and other road users’ lives in grave danger.

The current regulations are not working and we are seeing more and more illegal tyres being fitted to cars as drivers are swayed by cost alone. That is why we are calling, in the absence of greater enforcement of the regulations or an effective form of industry self-regulation, for a complete ban on part-worn tyres. Unless drastic action is taken now we are going to see the casualty and death toll rise as a result of illegal and defective tyres.”


1 Tyresafe

2 Department for Transport