Halfords to defer almost all tyre payments to 2024 in safety pledge

One of the UK’s leading car product retailers will defer almost all of the costs of new tyres to 2024 as part of a fresh initiative to keep drivers safe while their budgets are squeezed.

Halfords says this is because UK roads “have never been so bald”, with the cost of living crisis and a lack of public funds being spent on road maintenance to blame.

The claim comes as data, collected by the firm, shows that the number of vehicles with tyres below or on the borderline of the legal minimum tread depth has leapt by 71 per cent compared to last year.

This, the firm claims, suggests that almost one in seven vehicles on UK roads (or around 4.2 million vehicles) now has illegal or near illegal tyres, up from one in eleven last year. 

“Millions of families are struggling with day-to-day finances at present,” said Graham Stapleton, chief executive of Halfords. “that’s why we’re helping people stay safe now and kick the cost into next year.”

He added: “There’s a perfect storm of increasingly poorly maintained roads, caused by the squeeze on public finances, and increasingly worn tyres, caused by the squeeze on people’s pockets.

“Now more than ever we need to make it affordable for people to stay safe.”

Having tested tyre tread depth readings on almost 235,000 vehicles in April 2022 and April 2023, Halfords says the number of vehicles with red advisories – meaning the tyre tread depth is 2.0mm or below –  increased from 3.8 per cent to 6.5 per cent, while the number with amber advisories – meaning tread depth is between 2.1mm and 3.0mm – rose from 7 per cent to 7.8 per cent. 

The legal minimum tread depth for car tyres in the UK is 1.6mm across the breadth of the tread. Low tread tyres are more susceptible to punctures and blowouts and have a detrimental effect on fuel economy, braking and steering.

One of the key reasons for the issues is that two in three motorists say the cost-of-living crisis has made them more likely to delay changing their tyres.

This is a concerning statistic, RAC spokesman Rod Dennis told CAT, adding: “The cost-of-living crisis is undoubtedly having an impact on drivers’ ability to look after their vehicles properly, so sadly we’re not surprised to see a rise in the number that are either unroadworthy – or close to being so – because of worn tyres. 

“What’s more, drivers tell us they are increasingly putting off servicing and other repairs to save money.”

The most recent government data also shows that every seven hours there is an accident caused by defective tyres and brakes, “and that’s likely to have got worse in the past year,” said Stapleton. “We need urgent action to keep people safe.”

According to the World Economic Forum the UK has one of the worst quality road surfaces in Europe, worse than Cyprus and only marginally better than Lithuania.

Meanwhile, the asphalt industry association says that local authorities in England and Wales only received around two-thirds of what they need to stop local roads from further deterioration last year. More than £14 billion is now needed to fix the backlog of carriageway repairs it says.

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