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Part-worn tyres pose many problems for drivers. Not only do they present a major safety hazard, but poor tyre maintenance can increase the likelihood of having to replace the tyre earlier than expected.

According to fleet management company ARI Fleet UK, poor driver care and maintenance causes the early replacement of around 25% of the tyres on the vehicles it manages – impacting on the cost of operating the fleets involved.

Increased costs

ARI says that out of the 33,861 tyres it replaced last year, 8,429 were replaced because of issues such as under or over inflation – likely to have been caused by their drivers’ failure to keep an eye on the tyres.

“If uneven tyre wear is spotted early, then steps can be taken to ‘pull’ the tyre back into line,” said Richard Minshull, Head of Operations, ARI Fleet UK. “If drivers fail to undertake routine tyre checks and consequently, evidence of undue wear and tear is ignored, then the life of a tyre can be reduced by half or even two-thirds in some cases and that costs businesses money.”

Increased risks

But the bigger issue with part-worn tyres is, of course, the dangers that they pose to the driver, his  or her passengers and all other road users.

Sellers of part-worn tyres are subject to strict rules to make sure that the tyres carry sufficient tread depth and are undamaged. Damaged tyres are at risk of a blow-out, potentially causing a serious accident, while tyres without sufficient depth will have a reduced grip, again increasing the risk of an accident.

Illegal sales

These risks were highlighted by a TyreSafe investigation, carried out in April last year, in which the tyre safety group found that out of a random sample of 50 part-worn tyres, 98% had been sold illegally. Over a third of the tyres in the sample were damaged or non-compliant with the rules.

The organisation urged trading standards groups to crack down on the sale of illegal part-worn tyres, and it looks like the message is being heard. In Cumbria, for example, the local County Council and Cumbria police are working together to raise awareness of the issue.

Crackdown on compliance

According to Angela Jones, Trading Standards Service Manager with Cumbria County Council, the move recognises the financial pressures that people are under. More drivers are looking to buy part-worn tyres, she said, so while new tyres are the safest option, the Council needs to try to make sure that only compliant part-worn ones are available.

Her words echoed those of Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, in April 2012.

“Even if properly marked, it is impossible to know the history of a part-worn tyre, which makes it extremely difficult to be sure about its internal condition and safety credentials,” he warned. “With rigorous quality controls on all new tyres, fitting these as replacements is undoubtedly the safest option. What’s more, as our investigation showed, it’s often the best value too.”

Guest post from one of Scotland’s leading independent tyres dealers. Contact Strathclyde Tyres to book an appointment for new tyres, car servicing or an MOT test today.