part worn tyres

Buying part-worn tyres

Are second hand tyres safe?

It may seem like a quick, cheap and convenient option to buy some second-hand, part worn tyres when you’re in need for a replacement, but in the long run they may not always be the cheapest nor safest option.  Your tyres are the only part of your vehicle that comes into contact with the road surface and so it’s vital that they’re safe & legal, even if you’re on a budget! 

Here we look at what to look for when buying a part-worn tyre and what alternatives you have when you need new tyres but are on a tight budget.

part worn tyres stacked in warehouse

Are part-worn tyres legal?

Let’s start with the legalities. The short answer to this question is yes, it is legal to buy part- worn tyres as long as they adhere to certain requirements. 

These requirements include:

  • They must have an EC approval mark
  • They must be marked “PART-WORN” in uppercase letters
  • They must have at least 2mm of tread
  • They must not have any ply or cords exposed

As you can see, the standards for part-worn tyres are fairly low however despite this, a huge 98% do not meet the criteria and so are sold illegally – which puts you, your loved ones’ and other road users in danger.

Are part-worn tyres cheaper?

The UK’s legal requirements for tyres states the absolute minimum tread depth for a tyre to be deemed safe is 1.6mm. Part worn tyres can be sold & fitted with a minimum tread depth of just 2mm. This means that you may have just 0.4mm of tread depth on your tyre before it reaches the legal limit. All brands of new tyres come with 7-8 mm of tread depth. Although they cost a little more they actually work out less expensive per mm of tread. 

According to Tyresafe, the average cost of useable tread on a part-worn tyre is £6.33 compared to £5.32 on a brand new tyre.

man points finger at part worn tyre with shoulder wear

The hidden dangers of second hand tyres

During an investigation carried out by TyreSafe and AutoExpress, 50 part-worn tyres were tested and 34% of them contained potentially dangerous damage.

Only 2% of the tyres tested (yes that’s just one from the 50 tyres tested) adhered to the part-worn tyre requirements necessary for them to be sold legally.

Whilst many second-hand tyres look fine on the surface, it’s often the hidden damage that’s the main corcern. If a tyre has been punctured or driven on a low pressure then it’s likely to be damaged internally, compromising the structure of the tyre and your safety. Unless you’re a tyre expert it’s almost impossible to spot the hidden dangers of part-worn tyres. They could have cuts, sidewall damage, bulges or even be simply too old to be deemed safe. It’s even been reported that a nearly new car was seen by an AA technician fitted with 23 year old part-worn tyres.

Knowing the full history of your tyres is vital in ensuring the safety of your vehicle.

Buying tyres on a budget

Part-worn tyres are not your only option if you are looking to save money on a new set of tyres. In response to the high demand for cheaper tyres, more manufacturers are creating budget range tyres, which are cheaper for you to buy & much safer than buying a used tyre. Some examples reliable budget tyres are Radar, Accelera & Triangle. These new budget tyres have 7-8mm of useable tread and so are much better value than fitting a used or second hand tyre which may only have 2-3mm of tread. 

Many budget tyres also have really good EU ratings, which rate the tyres on fuel efficiency, wet grip & external noise.

Your tyres are the only part of your vehicle which comes into contact with the road surface. Please think twice about saving money by buying second hand tyres. Unless you know the history of your tyres they could put you at risk and may even be illegal.

eu tyre label on tyre