Beware risks of 'great' deals on used tyres
CAR owners are increasingly being offered part-worn and imported tyres as they try to reduce motoring costs.
Some deals sound like good value; some of the tyres may be dangerous. There is little real traceability and regulation – and that remains a big problem here.
There is no single, simple advice on buying used tyres but there is a solitary warning: be extremely vigilant.
It is understandable motorists want to put a set of replacement tyres on their cars at as reasonable a price as possible.
Indeed, some of the variations in prices quoted for new tyres would tempt buyers to look elsewhere for a bit of 'value'.
This is an area where you can save a lot of money – by shopping around and comparing like with like. I have heard of huge savings being made this way. And you are buying 'new' with all the benefits that involves.
Separate to that, however, is the whole area of used or part-worn tyres. A recent study found a frightening proportion of them with potentially lethal defects. There have been some scandalous examples of people being ripped off by apparently 'great deals'.
These included tyres that were sold with damaged tread and sidewalls.
The survey, by the Irish Tyre Industry Association, found more than half of part-worn tyres on sale here to be dangerous or 'not fit for purpose'.
The figures have not been challenged or disputed and were arrived at scientifically. Some tyres were found to be 20 years old. You have to ask yourself if you want your family's safety dependent on a 20-year-old tyre.
Sure, if you check the code on the tyre sidewall it will tell you how old it is – so long as you can decipher all the letters and numbers.
How many people can do that?
As well as that, it does take an expert eye to notice sidewall repairs, small bulges, uneven wear etc. And then there is the nightmare of internal damage (kerbs or potholes). That could lead to a blowout at any time.
There is no doubt that lack of regulation means buying part-worn tyres involves an opportunity and a risk.
By the same token, we can't dismiss all used tyres. Some may well represent excellent value if you know and trust the person selling them – and they know and trust who they bought from.
The single biggest problem is traceability. There is regulation of the part-worn tyre marketplace in the UK. They carry labels to show their status. We could do with something similar here.