'Illegal tyres' being sold by garages in the West Midlands

Part-worn tyres are a cheaper way of keeping a car on the road, but an investigation has found some garages are selling them illegally

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Garages across the West Midlands are selling illegal and potentially dangerous second-hand tyres, a BBC investigation has found.

Part-worn tyres must meet minimum legal standards to ensure they are safe.

But seven test-purchases carried out by BBC Inside Out West Midlands found all used tyres sold to researchers failed to meet these basic requirements.

Researchers visited ten garages across Staffordshire and Shropshire. Seven had part-worn tyres on sale.

They were examined by independent tyre safety expert, Damian Harty, from Coventry University, who also works as an expert witness on collision investigations.

Mr Harty found that all seven tyres were illegal because none had been stamped 'part-worn' as required by law. The stamp lets drivers know that the tyre has been checked and meets legal requirements.

Out of the seven, he said two were potentially dangerous due to the age and condition of them.

He said: "The obvious stuff to look out for is things like tread depth, it's important that you can see tread over the whole tyre.

"There's also the requirement for part-worn tyres to be stamped so that you know what you're getting and there should be no cuts or rips."

'Really scary'

Last year around four million part-worn tyres were sold to drivers, according to government estimates.

While there is nothing wrong with good quality second-hand tyres, poor quality ones pose a danger.

What to look for

Tyres

Under the Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994, part-worn tyres must follow these rules:

  • Not have any cut in excess of 25 millimetres
  • Not have any internal or external lump, bulge or tear
  • Consist of the word "PART-WORN"
  • The grooves of the original tread pattern of the tyre must be at least 2mm in depth

Russell Jones, 25, bought a part-worn tyre which collapse while he was travelling at 70mph on the motorway.

"It's scary enough when you hear a noise and you're driving on the motorway, but to actually feel your car pulling and to have to wrestle it to keep it in a straight line," he said.

"Had I not pulled over when I had the tyre could well have popped. If I was still going at 70mph then you're talking about a multi-car pileup."

Trading Standards prosecuted the garage for selling the 16-year-old tyre to Mr Jones, who thought he had paid for a new one.

Last year there were 709 tyre-related accidents reported in the UK, 127 of which happened in the West Midlands, according to the Department for Transport.

Some tyre safety campaigners are concerned about the unregulated market.

The Chairman of Tyre Safe, Stuart Jackson, said: "If you look at the growth we've experienced over the past couple of years, it has become a bigger problem for us to be much more concerned with."

The BBC said it had passed the information about the garages it had visited to the authorities.

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