According to the Road Safety Authority, the safety of a tyre is directly related to how long it has been used for. Second-hand or part-worn tyres are tyres which have been used on another vehicle and are significantly cheaper to purchase than new tyres. But are there hidden costs?
The minimum legal requirement for tyre tread depth is 1.6mm and tyres should ideally be replaced when the tread depth approaches 2mm. This is because in wet conditions (of which we have plenty) the grip of your tyres can be affected to a hazardous degree. If a second hand tyre costing €30 has a tread thickness of 3.6mm then there is 2mm of useable tread left before it reaches the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm. This works out at €15 per mm of usable tread.
On the other hand, a new tyre costing €80 has 8mm of tread and has 6.4mm of useable tread before it reaches the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm. This works out at €12.50 per mm of useable tread, and therefore offers better value.
In addition to the increased costs in this example, you would have to buy and fit three sets of these part worn tyres in order to get the same life as one new set of tyres.
However there are cases where a used tyre in good condition and with a significant amount of tread remaining may offer better value to a consumer than buying a new tyre.
What’s crucial is to know what your legal requirements are before considering a second hand tyre. It is an offence to drive with defective or worn tyres. You risk a fine of €80 and up to 4 penalty points upon conviction.
The following are some important safety points to look out for if you’re considering buying a second hand tyre: Your Guide to Tyre Safety (PDF).