The dangers of second hand tyres

In today’s struggling economy cheaper tyres can seem like a clever option. But if tyres are ridiculously cheap be careful of what you’re buying because chances are they are second hand and part worn.

It can be argued that ‘so what if tyres aren’t new and are slightly worn, they still do the job’.

Well, it depends on what you mean by ‘job’. If you want your tyres to get you from A to B then yes they probably do the job, but if you want a safe journey then this may be questionable.

So what makes second hand tyres dangerous?

The more tyres are used, the more the tyre’s tread depth is eroded because of wear and tear. If a tyre’s tread is worn away too much a car has less grip, especially in wet or icy conditions, therefore you have greater stopping distance and are more likely to have an accident.

As well as worn tyre tread being dangerous, it is also illegal if your tyre tread is not 1.6 millimetres in depth (this means all of your tyres, not just one of them).

When you buy second hand tyres their tread depth is obviously going to be worn slightly, but whether or not they are legal is something you can test yourself with something called the ’20p test’.

Basically, if you put a 20 pence piece in the centre of your tyres tread and the rim of the coin is completely covered, the tyre tread is deep enough to be legal. But, if you can see the rim, the tyre depth is not deep enough and therefore illegal.

A second hand, or part-worn, tyre will also need to be replaced quicker than a new tyre – meaning that initial saving could actually be a false economy. If you are thinking ‘Are my tyres safe?’, then take a look at our tyre buying guide for more information.

So all I have to do is take a 20p when I buy them second hand and I will be okay?

Not necessarily. This 20p test is very useful but before you do this test you do not know if the tyres are legitimate.

There may be things structurally wrong with the tyres so be careful. A trading standards investigation in 2010 found that some second hand tyres had nails embedded, exposed cords and inadequate markings.

It’s hard to say how to avoid these types of things, unless of course you’re a tyre boffin.

The only full proof way of making sure your tyres ensure your safety is to buy them from a manufacturer.

However, second hand tyres can be bought a lot cheaper than new tyres and can be fine. But you would have to ensure that whoever you are buying from, whether it’s a private dealer or someone else you may know, is 100 per cent legitimate.

Otherwise, it can put you and your passengers in danger.