Incompetence levels ‘stunning and unacceptable’

Drivers have again been warned of the inherent dangers of buying part worn tyres.

Research by Trading Standards, the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) and TyreSafe has concluded that the risk is exacerbated by incompetence and lack of expertise among some dealers.

Tyres are a safety critical component with strict regulations governing their resale, yet awareness of these rules is worryingly low among part worn retailers. Even the most basic requirement, which states tyres must be marked as ‘PART WORN’, was unknown to many dealers in the latest round of investigations.

This led the NTDA and TyreSafe to doubt whether any of the tyres’ critical safety checks had been carried out before they were offered for sale. Quite remarkably, one retailer in Enfield fitted a tyre to the test wheel with a significant amount of water inside it, making correctly balancing the wheel almost impossible.

In total, half of the premises visited by Enfield Trading Standards across the borough supplied a tyre considered to be unsafe and could put the potential purchasers’ life at risk with a further 83% of premises providing part worn tyres without the appropriate marking.

In Durham, County Council’s Consumer Protection service visited nine traders over two days with the same tyre expert provided by the NTDA and TyreSafe with a full inspection was carried out on 39 part worn tyres held in stock on the premises. Of those, only one tyre was marked as used while a further 25 had potentially catastrophic faults including poor repairs, age-related deterioration and structural weaknesses.

Stefan Hay, chief executive of the NTDA, said, ‘Once again, investigations have highlighted the woeful – and frankly dangerous – current status of Britain’s part worn tyre market. Whenever such operations are undertaken, the majority of retailers investigated are proven to be selling illegal products and have little or no expertise. When the product in question plays a vital role in the safety of drivers, passengers and all road users, you have to ask in how many other industries that would be acceptable?

‘In the absence of stricter enforcement, and a lack of willingness among part worn dealers to clean up their industry, the NTDA will continue to champion a complete ban on the sale of part worn tyres.’

TyreSafe chairman, Stuart Jackson, added, ‘The level of incompetence shown by many part worn tyre dealers is stunning and utterly unacceptable. Part worn tyre dealers need to look at themselves and ask if they really have the essential skills to be selling a product which has such far reaching implications for the safety of the motorists who have come to them in good faith, seeking expertise. From the vehicle owners’ point of view, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be sure how well trained a used tyre fitter is. TyreSafe repeats its long-standing advice to motorists – it’s better to buy new and not part worn tyres.’