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3 November, 2021

The true cost of buying part worn tyres

The pandemic has left many of us feeling cash strapped, and this presents its own set of challenges when it comes to running and maintaining a car. 

One way drivers consider reducing spend is to buy part worn tyres instead of brand new ones. In a recent survey conducted by RED Driving School in partnership with Kwik-Fit and Michelin canvassing attitudes towards part worn tyres, we found that, despite the risks, almost one-third of the learners (29%) would consider buying part worn tyres.

What are part worn tyres?

As the name suggests, part worn tyres are tyres that have been previously fitted and used on a vehicle.

Respondents to RED’s survey said they’d purchase part worn tyres because they thought they were a cheaper option than new tyres. In addition, several respondents said they’d consider them as a short-term measure if they were experiencing financial hardship.

Why do people buy part worn tyres?

  • There are signs it could be a false economy. While the initial outlay may be lower, part worns often end up proving more expensive in the long run. A study by Tyresafe showed that, in terms of lifetime cost per mm of tread wear, a new tyre (typically 7-8mm tread depth) cost around £5.32 per mm vs £6.33 per mm for a part worn with a typical tread depth of 3mm, though they can be legally sold with a tread depth of just 2mm. Driving on tyres less than 1.6mm carries a fine of £2,500 and three penalty points on a driver’s licence per tyre which can result in increased car insurance premiums, so why take the risk? 
  • Purchasing used tyres from sellers via online trading platforms might also seem like an attractive option, but it’s not possible to easily identify damage to the tyre and there’s no way of knowing the tyre’s history. There could be accident or kerbing damage that remains undetected. Even a professional inspection might not be able to determine internal condition. It’s a key reason why Kwik-Fit and other reputable retailers have chosen not to sell part-worn tyres. 

The importance of high quality tyres

Tyres are primarily a safety device: they are the only things that connect a car to the road and allow a vehicle to be steered and stopped. On average, 159 people are killed or seriously injured as a result of defective tyre related accidents annually in the UK. Fitting new tyres provides greater reassurance when it comes to safety, and over the life of the tyre, will often result in a lower cost of ownership. Kwik-Fit recommends fitting a premium tyre brand, such as Michelin, budget permitting. If affordability is an issue, the advice is to buy a new mid-range tyre over any part worn tyre, even if the part worn tyre is a premium tyre brand.

You could also consider joining Kwik Fit Club, a subscription scheme that spreads the cost of your tyres over their entire life, avoiding single up-front payments.  It also covers you for any replacement tyres or repairs needed as a result of punctures or damage.

Ultimately, with part worn tyres you could be placing your life and that of others at risk and so we strongly advise all motorists to purchase brand new tyres. No “cost saving” is worth injury or loss of life.

Man with glasses driving car