Further recent investigations by Trading Standards, the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) and TyreSafe across the country have once again highlighted the dangers of buying part worn tyres – this time due to the incompetence and lack of expertise among some dealers adding to the risks posed by the products they sell.
Tyres are a safety critical component with strict regulations governing their resale when both new and used. Yet awareness of those rules is worryingly low among part worn retailers, who have the extra responsibility of ensuring they are not putting potentially lethal tyres back in the marketplace. Even the most basic requirement, which states tyres must be marked as ‘PART WORN’, was apparently unknown to dealers in the latest round of investigations, casting severe doubt as to whether any of the tyres’ critical safety checks had been carried out before they were offered for sale.
Quite remarkably, one part worn retailer in Enfield fitted a tyre to the test wheel with a significant amount of water inside it. This dramatically increases the scope for corrosion damage but more immediately makes correctly balancing the wheel almost impossible. As a result, the driver experiences vibration through the steering wheel, while suspension parts are put under unnecessary strain.
This not only highlights how poorly many part worns are stored but equally the complete lack of understanding among some dealers of basic tyre fitment procedures.
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.
Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, said: “Product safety and the health and wellbeing of County Durham residents is at the top of our agenda and this has been an opportunity to work with the part worn tyre trade to ensure that unsafe second-hand tyres are removed from supply.
“I am concerned however at the apparent lack of knowledge of some traders who are dealing in part worn tyres as any non-compliance could have significant consequences.
“We shall continue to advise traders on their responsibilities but have not ruled out test purchasing and possible enforcement action if we suspect that unsafe tyres are supplied in the future.”
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, said: “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.”
For more information: www.tyresafe.org