Part worn tyres

In its latest campaign the RSA has highlighted the cost and potential danger of buying second hand (part-worn) tyres. Second-hand or part-worn tyres are tyres which have been used on another vehicle and such tyres can pose a serious road safety risk.

Second hand tyres – are they as cheap as you think?

Are you getting real value for money?

Here is example;

  • A second hand tyre costing €30 has a remaining tread of 3.6mm.
  • Therefore, the tyre has 2 mm of useable tread before it reaches the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm.
  • This works outs at €15 per mm of usable tread.

On the other hand

  • A new tyre costing €80 has 8mm of tread when new.
  • Therefore, the new tyre it has 6.4 mm of useable tread before it reaches the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm.
  • This works out at €12.50 per mm of useable tread, and therefore offers better value.

In addition to the increased costs in this example, you would have to buy and fit three sets of these part worn tyres in order to get the same life as one new set of tyres totalling €90…

Other areas to check are:

Tyres also have a ‘tread wear indicator’ block set into them at a depth of 1.6mm. You should check this block to ensure that this indicator is not at the same level as or lower than the tyre tread.

Other areas to check are:

Check for an E- and S- Mark on the tyre as below E-mark is needed for the NCT.

Check that there is a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm on the tyre. If less the tyre is illegal for use on a public road. Check the tyres before considering a second hand tyre. It is an offence to drive with defective or worn tyres and you risk a FINE of €80 and up to 4 Penalty Points upon Conviction.

Ask the tyre seller if the tyre has undergone a ‘condition check’ (including when it is inflated) to make sure it meets the minimum legal requirements and is free from defects both internally and externally. Common defects include tears, lumps and bulges as you can see above.

Other questions to ask are:

The tyre you are buying is the correct size, load, speed rating and design for your vehicle. If unsure you could consult your vehicle manufacturer or look it up in the owner’s handbook.

Find out the age of the second hand tyre and make sure that it is not more than six years old.

A tyre that is six years old is a ‘pass advisory’ item at the NCT. The tyre’s age can be determined by the serial number on the tyre sidewall as per the below picture which shows the tyre was manufactured in the 20th week of the year 2014.

The history of a second hand tyre is relatively unknown - it could have been involved in a crash or have internal damage, which may not be visible once fitted to your vehicle. Even if these tyres meet the minimum thread depth requirements, they may not uphold in an emergency braking or steering situation.

A tyre that is not roadworthy will result in a car failing its NCT as well as reducing your safety on the road.

Be satisfied that you are getting value for money. The remaining tread depth of a second hand tyre is very important, and this is something you need to consider carefully in terms of the value for money. To check the percentage of usable tread remaining, use the popout tyre tread depth gauge provided in the “Your Guide to Tyre Safety” Booklet. “Your Guide to Tyre Safety (PDF)”.

Back to top