2018 News

24 October 2018

AA 2nd Hand Tyre Mystery Shop

‘Half of Tyres Purchased Showed Signs of Damage’

A study by the Automobile Association (AA) has revealed that half the second hand tyres purchased showed signs of damage in the road contact surface area. While not immediately unroadworthy, such damage e.g. puncture repairs and scuffs, can lead to weaknesses and increase the likelihood of tyre failure down the line.

Commissioned by the Road Safety Authority (RSA), the AA mystery shopping exercise targeted 60 tyre retailers across 26 counties during July and August 2018. The aim was to assess the availability, condition and value of second hand (part-worn) tyres in the Irish market.

A summary of the findings is as follows:

  • Of the 60 retailers, 30[1] offered second hand tyres for sale
  • 43% of the tyres purchased were six years or over - an advisory item at the NCT
  • 44% were found to be stored in unsuitable environments – incorrectly stacked on top of each other and/or exposed to the elements
  • Almost two out of three outlets failed to inform the buyer whether or not the tyres were inspected and roadworthy

Moyagh Murdock, CEO of the RSA welcomed the study saying: ‘Most people buy second hand tyres because they think they’re saving money. But is that all your life is worth? Tyres are your vehicles only contact with the road so why settle for someone else’s cast off. You don’t know the history of a second hand tyre and it could be dangerous. Always choose new, quality tyres and think of it as an investment in your safety.’ 

Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer Affairs for the AA, commented on the report: ‘While some findings are a concern, it’s important to highlight that many retailers were themselves wary of selling the second hand tyres. Some even attempted to dissuade our buyer, offering them new tyres instead. It’s encouraging to see that more and more Irish tyre retailers are making safety a priority and choosing to sell only new tyres.’

Tim Stokes, Programme Manager with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), which has responsibility for market surveillance of tyre labelling in Ireland said: ‘By law, all new tyres sold must have a label which provides a performance rating for wet grip, fuel efficiency and external noise. This helps motorists take into account vital safety and environmental information when buying a tyre. Labelling doesn’t apply to second hand tyres so motorists have no idea what they’re buying. We’d encourage drivers to opt for new tyres and check the tyre label with the retailer before the purchase is made.’

While the survey revealed that most of the second hand tyres purchased had a satisfactory level of tread depth at just over 6mm (a new tyre is 8mm), it’s important to remember that if a tyre is damaged or very old it would need to be replaced regardless of how much tread is remaining.

Irish road traffic legislation sets out requirements with respect to tyre condition and tyre tread depth for vehicles which are used on a public road. It is the responsibility of the owner or driver to ensure their vehicles’ tyres are not below the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm or defective in any way.

In addition, the latest EU roadworthiness testing laws now require vehicle faults to be classified as minor, major or dangerous, and tyres are consistently in the top five fail items at the NCT. If one is found to be dangerously defective, a ‘failed dangerous’ sticker will now be placed across the vehicle’s windscreen to deter further use pending repair or replacement.

Something else to consider when tempted to buy a used tyre is the negative economies of scale. They don’t necessarily equal better value for money. During this survey, the average price of a second hand tyre was €34. Yet an extra €26 would buy a new budget tyre which wouldn’t need to be replaced as often. 

Under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, any second hand tyre sold must be of merchantable quality and fit for purpose. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) can offer information on consumer rights if the sale of a product does not meet this standard.

The full AA Mystery Shop Report on second hand tyres is available to view here.


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