Advantages of part-worn tyres
As has been pointed out many times before, if you buy a second-hand car and don’t replace the tyres with a new set immediately, you are in effect buying part-worn tyres. Lots of us will admit to having done exactly that with no idea whatsoever where those tyres have come from or what their history might be.
Some part-worn tyres are shipped over from Germany, where the minimum legal tread depth is 3mm. In the UK it’s 1.6mm, so a part-worn tyre imported from Germany will still have plenty of tread left and perhaps a couple of thousand miles still to run.
The big advantage of part-worn tyres, of course, is that they cost less than brand new tyres. What’s more, by buying a set of used rubber you might be able to afford a higher quality tyre from a big name brand, rather than a budget tyre from a manufacturer you’ve never heard of.
Disadvantages of part-worn tyres
Safety. It’s as simple as that. If somebody has removed a set of tyres from their car, they have done so because they no longer consider them to be safe. If those tyres aren’t good enough for another driver, are they really good enough for you?
With less tread depth than a brand new tyre, part-worns will generate less grip, particularly in the wet. That means your car will have less traction and – more pertinently – less cornering and braking grip.
A survey carried out by TyreSafe found that up to 98 per cent of used tyres sold in Britain did not comply with the regulations, while 34 per cent could be considered dangerous. However, even a tyre that does satisfy the regulations could be harbouring a nasty secret, whereas a brand new tyre will not.
It is also the case that second hand tyres will not last as long as new tyres. You’ll have to replace them much more often, so the savings will be less substantial than they might first appear. A new tyre might have a much as 8mm of tread, whereas a part-worn might only have a quarter of that. It’ll therefore only be fit for a few hundred miles and will need replacing before long.
Alternatives to part-worn tyres
In years gone by remoulded tyres, or retreaded tyres, were a popular solution. Remoulds are still legal in the UK, as long as they comply with strict regulations, and if manufactured with care they needn’t be significantly less safe than new tyres. Retreading a tyre involves stripping the tread and sidewall from a used tyre (the structure of which should be in good condition) and applying new rubber to the carcass. As budget tyres from the Far East have become more commonplace, though, remoulded tyres have accordingly become less popular.