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Partworn Tyres

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What are part worn tyres? The name part worn tyres give a pretty clear indication of what they are – tyres that have been used and are, therefore ‘partly worn’ so that there is not the same amount of tread as you would get on a brand new set of tyres or even budget tyres.


Why do motorists choose to fit them? Drivers choose to fit part worn tyres as they are a cheaper alternative to fitting new tyres. However, while it seems on the surface that they offer better value for money - do they? The answer is not necessarily. When you buy new tyres, they come with 8mm of tread whereas part worn tyres could have as little as 2mm of tread. This means you will have to replace the part worn tyres that much sooner – when the tread falls below 1.6mm, the minimum legal tread depth for tyres.


Why don’t Tyre Shopper offer part worn tyres? At Tyre Shopper, we don’t sell part worn tyres. We only sell brand new tyres, and indeed all of our products are brand new and come with excellent product guarantees from leading manufacturers so that our customers can be assured of absolute quality and workmanship.


Part worn tyres and the law It is not illegal to fit part worn tyres. However, they must meet within specific legislation to be considered legal.

Part worn tyres are covered by the Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994 (regulation 7) which falls under the Consumer Protection Act. This means that part worn tyres must meet the following conditions to be considered roadworthy.

  • Firstly the structural integrity of part worn tyres must be uncompromised – they should not have any substantial cuts, bulges or lumps. This includes internally and externally. Also, no plies or cords should be exposed.
  • Part worn tyres must complete an inflation test to ensure that they are free from punctures.
  • Tread depth is also taken into consideration and by law all the grooves must be visible in their entirety and have 2mm of tread left on the part worn tyres across the whole width and circumference. (New tyres have 8mm of tread and when the tyre falls below 1.6mm it becomes illegal).
  • All part-worn tyres have to be stamped with an ‘E’ mark and be labelled as ‘PART WORN’ in letters of at a minimum of 4mm in height permanently and legibly on the tyres – they must not be branded or cut into the tyres.
  • Some part worn tyres are retreaded and if so, they must have the correct British Standards symbol applied alongside the PART WORN text (still in 4mm in height). Part worn tyres must also display speed and load index ratings as stated in BS AU 144e 1998.
  • Finally, if part worn tyres have been repaired, the repair must be carried out within the stipulations as stated in paragraphs four - seven of BS AU 159.
  • Part worn tyres under investigation TyreSafe, the UK’s foremost tyre safety organisation and AutoExpress magazine have carried out a study into the state of part worn tyres being sold in the UK, randomly testing 50 part worn tyres from retailers across the UK to see if they met with legislative standards.

Tyresafe Worrying results show that 98% of those retailers checked who sell part worn tyres have not been following the legislation and, in fact, offer part worn tyres for sale that are illegal.

These included defects such as part worn tyres that contained penetrating objects e.g. a nail that could result in tyre failure, unsafe and unlawful repairs, bead and run-flat damage. Not only is this a criminal offence, the drivers themselves face fines of £2,500 per tyre and three penalty points on their licence should they have illegal tyres fitted, not to mention that the part worn tyres could be extremely dangerous and pose a serious safety risk to the driver and their passengers.

TyreSafe has also followed up with a response for the value for money argument and said motorists should not consider the initial cost of the tyres but instead think about the amount of useable tread on the part worn tyres.

For example, TyreSafe has estimated that by measuring the amount in mm of useable tread before a tyre becomes illegal – new tyres would cost £5.32 per mm compared to £6.33 per mm of usable tread on art worn tyres.

That means you are paying 16% more overall when opting for part worn tyres. Furthermore, TyreSafe has called on Trading Standards to look more into the sale of part worn tyres in the future.

There has been some suggestion that part worn tyres should be x-rayed to ensure their structural integrity and that they contain no foreign objects that could be dangerous.

However, as this is not required by law, it is extremely hard to tell if part worn tyres have been compromised in any way.

Part worn tyres and tyre safety As with any set of tyres, it is important that you carry out tyre safety checks on part worn tyres to ensure they remain safe and legal.

Verify that the tread depth is within the legal minimum of 1.6mm in a continuous band across the entire perimeter of the part worn tyres.

It’s also imperative that you check the general condition of the part worn tyres, ensuring they are free from lumps, bulges, cuts and cracks – also ensure there are no foreign bodies such as gravel or a nail impaled within the part worn tyres that could cause a puncture or blow out at high speeds.

Finally, you should also check your tyre pressure regularly (at least monthly) and before any long journeys to ensure your part worn tyres are correctly inflated which helps prolong the life of your part worn tyres and also improves fuel efficiency that saves you money. Find your recommended pressure in the petrol cap, in the driver’s door or the vehicle manufacturer’s handbook.

  • Some vital statistics ·
  • Each year 1210 motorists are injured in accidents where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres are a causative factor
  • In the TyreSafe and AutoExpress study, 98% of part worn tyres tested did not meet with legislative criteria and were considered illegal
  • Over a third contained potentially dangerous defects that could pose a serious risk to safety such as an embedded nail, exposed cords, damage to beads and so on
  • Braking distances increase as tyre tread decreases- so testing a tyre with tread at 1.6mm (the legal limit) compared to a new tyre with 8mm takes almost an additional 12 metres to stop – that’s nearly a third more (based on driving on wet roads at 50mph)

Other advice on part worn tyres TyreSafe and AutoExpress aren’t the first organisation to express concerns about the use of part worn tyres. In fact, a study by Trading Standards in Birmingham in 2010 also found that 90% of part worn tyres tested did not meet the legal requirements.

This was Birmingham Council’s ninth annual investigation into part worn tyres and over the course of the entire investigation nearly 200 tyres were tested with 25% found to have a structural defect such as nail embedded within tyre, 30% were found to have a structural failing of some sort such as illegal tread depth and a staggering 90% did not meet the legal criteria such as being marked as part worn tyres so the customer might not even realise they were buying part worn tyres at all.

Tyre Shopper and the 3mm Campaign vs. part worn tyres Tyre Shopper support the 3mm campaign that promotes the replacement of tyres when they reach 3mm, the depth at which the tyre begins to perform less well in wet conditions driving at speed.

Studies have found that a tyre with a tread depth of the legal minimum (1.6mm) has braking distances of as much as 25% longer compared to a tyre with 3mm tread depth.

Put that in real terms, it’s an extra 8 metres or 25 feet! As long as the tyre is within the 1.6mm and meets the above criteria stipulated, then it remains legal.

However Tyre Shopper do not recommend the fitment of part worn tyres.

Free safety checks at our fitting partners To ensure your tyres are safe and legal then why not ask for a free visual tyre safety inspection at our fitting partners, National Tyres and Autocare? With over 200 branches nationwide, there’s a location near you.

The free inspection includes a tyre tread and general condition check -including the spare tyre.

National always offer a repair instead of replacement where possible, and only advise you buy a new tyre if you really need it. This check is completely free and only takes a few minutes but offers you peace of mind to continue your journey. Ask at any National branch now.


Further information For advice about part worn tyres and tyre safety, please refer to TyreSafe, the UK’s foremost tyre safety organisation here. TyreSafe is a not for profit organisation concerned with raising consumer awareness about the dangers of defective and worn tyres and the importance of ensuring tyre tread, pressure and general tyre condition is safe and legal.


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