You wouldn’t buy partly-chewed chewing gum, or a partly-demolished house. You would? Maybe it’s time to rethink those consumer spending decisions.
Plenty of Brits are happy to buy part-worn tyres for their cars. This is despite the many safety videos on You Tube presented by earnest, nerdy chaps in really bad jeans. Check them out.
They’ll warn you that, in an episode of hard braking – the type where you can feel the fear crawling all over your neck like diddy spiders – depending on barely-legal tyres on wet roads will result in you joining the occupants of the car in front.
A recent AA survey tells us that more than one in 10 UK drivers will buy one or more part-worn tyres over the next year. In the 18-24 age bracket, that figure is over a quarter. But then, these are the people saddled with repaying the equivalent cost of a Mayfair parking spot in exchange for an honours degree in Golf Management.
17,000 members were interviewed. They found that over half felt new tyres were too expensive. However, as safety experts are fond of telling us, the cost of tyres isn’t measured in pounds and pence. It’s measured in how swiftly and spectacularly you leave the main carriageway and wind up in a fir tree.
But hey, you can buy a part-worn tyre for as little as £10. True. But you can also pay an inebriated baboon to write your CV. It’ll cost you just some berries and maybe a small rodent, but you’re unlikely to get the job. Depending on the job, of course.
Mark Shankland, Managing Director of Tyres at the Association, said: “It’s not surprising that drivers are looking for ways to lower the cost of running their car, but buying used tyres is simply a false economy that continues to mislead millions of motorists each year.
“While initial outlay on a part-worn tyre may be as little as £10, the legal limit for tread is 1.6mm. Buying a used tyre with 2mm left of tread is therefore far less economical than buying a new tyre with 7mm, for example.”
The truth is that, while you might get a year out of a set of new tyres with 7mm tread depth, your shiny part-worns with 2mm tread might be lucky to make it to teatime.
Shankland adds, “Used tyres may seem like an easy way of saving money, but they can very quickly become dangerous to drive on – and that can be an incredibly expensive mistake to make. After all, the penalty for driving with tyres below the legal tread depth in the UK can cost you £2,500 and three points per tyre.”
By the way, let’s consider another safety issue with part-worn tyres: why were they removed in the first place? After all, they’re still legal, right?
This is why it pays to find out a tyre’s history. Which is obviously difficult. There’s no ancestry.com for car tyres. It would be incredibly dull. And demand wouldn’t be high.
Jamie McWhir, Technical Manager at Michelin, said, “One of the issues buying a part-worn tyre is that you have no idea about its history. It was obviously removed from the previous vehicle for a reason. Was it involved in an accident? Was it considered unsafe or damaged?”
However, McWhir added that Michelin tests have shown that a premium-quality worn tyre that can work effectively right down to the legal 1.6mm can outperform a brand new, low-quality budget tyre.
But if your choice really does come down to cost, consider this: AA Tyres has worked out that you’ll pay £6.33 per mm of tread with a part-worn, compared with £5.32 on a new £50 tyre.
So let’s face it: there are no real benefits for the motorist in the long run who buys part-worns, only risks.