More than 90% of part-worn tyre dealers are selling tyres that are either unsafe or illegal, a new investigation finds.

The five-year investigation, carried out by TyreSafe in partnership with Trading Standards, saw officials visit 152 part-worn outlets – with 139 found to be selling unsafe or illegal tyres.

During test purchases, some retailers fitted tyres filled with with water, while others provided the wrong size of tyre. TyreSafe says instances of tyres with nails and other objects embedded in them were ‘all too common’.

In one case, a part worn retailer from Hemel Hempstead was ordered to pay more than £7,000 in fines and costs, following prosecution by Hertfordshire Trading Standards.

In reaching their verdict, magistrates said they were shocked at the case and had considered the potential implications of selling unsafe tyres.

Terry Hone, Hertfordshire County Council’s executive member for community safety, said: “We hope that this sends a message to the part-worn tyre market in Hertfordshire that we take these matters very seriously.

“Our consumers should be able to expect that any tyre they buy for road use complies with safety standards.”

TyreSafe says tyres are an essential factor in road safety, as they are only part of a vehicle in touch with the road. It also points out that a vehicle fitted with defective tyres takes longer to stop and is more difficult to control when cornering.

Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe, said: “While the shocking findings of joint investigations may reveal some part worn dealers are compliant, even if it is fewer than one-in-10, motorists have a 90% chance of visiting an outlet selling illegal tyres.

“As far as TyreSafe is aware, there is no other retail sector with such an atrocious track record.

“Let’s remember these dealers are selling safety critical components – when tyres are driven in an unroadworthy condition, a vehicle’s braking and steering are compromised, and road users are put at significant risk of a catastrophic tyre failure.

“TyreSafe pledges to continue its potentially life-saving work with Trading Standards and partners with an ambition to drive compliance and competence among part worn retailers.”

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