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Danger for Drivers as Most Part Worn Tyre Dealers Work Illegally

By Stephen Turvil | September 17, 2018


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TyreSafe claims part worn tyre dealers flout the law in bulk and risk the lives, health, and well-being of motorists

Danger for Drivers as Most Part Worn Tyre Dealers Work Illegally

Safety charity buys and evaluates part worn tyres

The vast majority of dealers that sell part worn tyres fit dangerous, illegal, damaged products that risk the lives of motorists, TyreSafe research suggests. The safety charity bought part worn tyres from one-hundred and fifty-two dealers then evaluated their condition. Only thirteen dealers – a tiny fraction of the total - supplied safe, legal, tyres. Imperfections included:

  • Socket buried in the tread 
  • Severe internal damage 
  • Chunks missing from the tread 
  • Major cracks 
  • Serious bulges 
  • Unsafe repairs 
  • Embedded nails 

Part worn tyre law

The Motor Vehicle Tyres Safety Regulations confirm what criteria part worn, non-retread, tyres must meet to be legally sold throughout The United Kingdom. For starters they must be free of significant structural imperfection such as: large cuts, bulges, lumps, exposed plies and exposed cords. Further criteria includes:

  • Pass a pre-sale inflation test 
  • Original grooves clearly visible throughout 
  • Tread depth at least 2mm throughout 
  • E mark to prove they meet European regulations 
  • Part worn written in capital letters at least 4mm high 


Dealers face penalties for breaking such rules. One supplier has recently been prosecuted and fined seven thousand pounds via a magistrates’ court, for instance. TyreSafe confirmed the magistrates were “shocked” by the offences, “considered the potential implications” and came close to imposing a custodial sentence. Imprisonment is “highly likely” if there is a repetition.

TyreSafe Chairman Stuart Jackson said: “TyreSafe applauds the magistrates’ comments and penalties in this latest conviction. However, it must be acknowledged the retail of dangerous and defective tyres by part worn dealers is unacceptably commonplace nationwide. As far as TyreSafe is aware, there is no other retail sector with such an atrocious track record”, Mr Jackson emphasised.

Why tyres matter

Tyres are far more important than some motorists recognise. Why? Because they are the only part of the car in contact with the road and influence how it brakes, corners and accelerates. Even a comparatively minor imperfection such as low pressure has a significant, negative, influence. Serious faults, in contrast, have life threatening consequences. Damaged tyres explode, for instance.

Fit & Hope Campaign

Danger for Drivers as Most Part Worn Tyre Dealers Work Illegally Image 0

The TyreSafe Fit & Hope Campaign incorporates a video, posters, leaflets and banners for websites that further emphasise why the charity is not a fan of sub-standard, part worn, tyres. It reveals:

  • Ninety-eight percent of part worn tyres are “sold illegally” 
  • Thirty-four percent of part worn tyres incorporate “potentially dangerous forms of damage and non-compliance” 
  • Part worn tyres are a false economy as they cost more per-millimetre of tread than brand new, perfect, counterparts 

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