INVESTIGATION: Thousands using near-ineffective tyres on UK roads

Thousands of drivers are using well-used and near-ineffective tyres as the ongoing cost of living crisis is stopping them buying new rubber.

This is potentially putting road-users at risk, as worn tyres are markedly less effective than their new cousins, especially in the wetter winter months, an investigation between CAT and Ebay has found.

During one test on a wet track using the same Ford Puma ST and Continental SportContact 7 tyres, rubber on the legal 1.6mm limit took 90.9m to stop from 70mph, compared to new 8mm tyres’ 61.6m.

The difference between new tyre stopping distance (marked by cone) and near-illegal tyres

In another test, which involved slaloming around cones on the same wet track, the near-illegal tyres began to slide from as little as 25mph, rendering them useless. The new tyres, of course, didn’t falter.

It comes as an Ebay survey found that almost two-thirds (87%) of drivers admitted to putting off getting new tyres as spending belts tighten, with one in ten (11%) putting off buying replacements for more than three years.

With worn tyres being cited as the fourth most common reason for cars to fail their MOT test from January to March 2023, more than 15% of motorists surveyed admitted to ignoring an advisory for their tyres following the annual vehicle check, with almost one in 10 (8%) having done so in the past 12 months.

Tread on a new, 8mm tyre

While many people have received advisories for low tyre tread, 27% said they had waited months before addressing the problem while 11% admitted to waiting a full year, until their next MOT test, before getting a new set of tyres.

As well as delaying the purchasing of new tyres, eBay’s research also found that 11% were not confident when checking the tread on their tyres, while 10% stated that they have no clue about the recommended tyre pressures for their vehicle.

Hannah Gordon, Ebay ambassador and expert mechanic, said: “As a mechanic, I’ve witnessed first-hand the reluctance of drivers to address tyre damage promptly. People are often put off by cost, and understandably, they think if they pass an MOT they’re fine, which isn’t always the case.

“Braking distance and overall handling, especially in winter weather, can be seriously impacted by tyre health and tread depth.”

Ebay expert Hannah Gordon with CAT’s Will Rimell

The research comes as Ebay continues its push into automotive by launching its improved tyre buying and fitting service, as it looks to take on the UK’s largest garage chains, such as Kwik Fit. The brand has 250,000 tyre listings and over 3,000 installers across the UK.

Ian Faulkner, Ebay UK’s car tyres category manager, said: “Like many of the jobs that people have to do through necessity, checking tyres, buying the right ones and finding a place to get them fitted can be a major stumbling block for many motorists – and safety will be compromised as a result.

“The simplicity of the relaunched eBay service ensures you can quickly and easily find the right tyres and a convenient place to have them fitted.”

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