The Menace Of Part Worn / Secondhand Tyres

Do you understand the difference? Should you buy them? What are the risks? This article wil shed some light on these common questions. 

Part Worn Tyres

We do not sell part worn tyres. Our decision not to sell part worn tyres comes as a result of extensive research undertaken by a number of organisations.

It is estimated that 3.5million part worn tyres are sold in the UK every year. Part worn tyres come from 3 key sources:


Regulations in other certain other European countries require tyres be changed when they have 3mm of tread depth on them 1.4mm more than the UK. Additionally in many European countries there is a legal requirement to change from Summer to Winter Tyres. Many of the tyres removed have 3mm to 6mm of tread depth left on them, it is largely uneconomic to store these over the winter period and then to refit these. Many of these tyres find their way to the UK to be resold as part worn tyres. This in itself creates significant problems for the UK in that at the end of their life they have to be destroyed in an environmentally friendly way. Research has shown that in 2009 Germany exported 69,000 tones of used tyres, it is believed that many of these came to the UK.

Scrap Yards

Old or badly accident damaged cars are sold for scrap. The tyres are often removed from these vehicles to be recycled into the tyre market.


Tyres that are removed from vehicles by reputable tyre fitters will normally be stored on site before being removed for disposal through environmentally friendly way. Sadly these stores are often rifled and tyres with any level of legal tread depth- without discussion on why the tyre has been removed for instance because of irreparable punctures or due to damage caused by hitting pot holes. Protyre has taken the step of eliminating this problem by drilling holes in the sides of scrap tyres to ensure that they cannot be reused as tyres.

The regulations on Part Worn tyres are part of the Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulation 1994. The onus is on the reseller to test the tyres to ensure they are safe and to then apply a vulcanised patch to confirm this has been done and to mark the tyres clearly as PART WORN. Some of the tyres which are part worn will have been repaired however there is no competency test for a “properly repaired” tyre and no traceability on the test examination.


Part Worn Tyres are a False Economy

Research by Tyresafe has shown that those who buy part worn tyres will buy tyres at least twice as often and that they will pay significantly more per mm of tread. Tyre Safe reported that a part worn tyre will cost £6.33/mm of tread while a comparable, in quality terms, new tyre would cost £5.32.

Another significant factor is the tyre age Bristol City Council prosecuted 1 part worn tyre dealer for selling a tyre that was 16 years old to a customer who didn’t even realize that the tyre was part worn.

Research by Auto Express in 2012 discovered some of the hidden problems of part worn tyres where they had often been damaged in collisions or in scrapes with curbs and pot holes. This tyre of damage can severely compromise the structure of a tyre and make it more liable to a rapid deflation. TyreSafe also recorded that 98% of part worn tyres are sold illegally.

If you are tempted to purchase part worn tyres please follow these helpful tips:

1. Check that the tyre has been marked part worn

2. Check that it has a vulcanised strip on it confirming it is part worn

3. Ask if the tyre has been checked for any structural damage or past repairs

4. Always check if a new tyre would be a more economical

5. Always use a recognised and reputable dealer

6. If you have any questions about a part worn tyre ask your local trading standards.

About the author

David Sholicar

David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and ...

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