Remoulds used to be a byword for poor quality tyres. Reusing a carcass of a worn out tyre, processing it, recladding it with fresh tread to giving it a new life was generally felt to be the lowest rung on the tyre ladder and they were rightly treated with some trepidation by motorists.
At least those that could afford to be choosy.
As a result, in cars at least, the remoulded tyre is all but extinct; killed by a combination of consumer reluctance and the availability of acceptable quality tyres from the Far East.
The same disappearance from the market has not befallen part-worn tyres. In fact, they remain very popular. Figures from industry body TyreSafe suggest that 5.5 million part-worn tyres are sold every year in the UK.
It recently revealed details of a survey in which it purchased a quantity of part-worn tyres from various outlets and the results were not very reassuring. It found 98% of those supplied did not conform with the rules. Many of those were due to incorrect markings, which is illegal, but not dangerous. A very worrying 34% of tyres supplied were what could be deemed dangerous. There were various forms of damage, including damaged sidewalls, insufficient tread depth and in one case, a piece of metal sticking through the tread.
The rules for legally supplying part-worn tyres are pretty straight-forward and relatively strict too, hence the large number of non-compliant ones supplied. They must be stamped to show they are part-worn, no more than small areas of damage are permitted, but a well-repaired puncture is acceptable.
The defence of part-worns usually centres around the fact that any used car you buy is likely to be running on ‘part-worn’ tyres, albeit ones which have worn on the car. New owners don’t rush to throw them away in favour of new ones, A fair point, although if the tyres had been inspected, most car buyers would replace tyres they knew to be dangerous.
The difference between a part-worn tyre on a car that you have owned and used, and one which is picked off a pile and fitted to your car, is that you know the history of a tyre that you have worn out yourself.
The key justification for many in the use of a part-worn tyre is cost. Part-worns will be significantly cheaper than a new tyre, but Tyresafe does say that if you calculate the value of a tyre in a ‘pounds per mm of tread’, a new tyre is cheaper. That’s not a very impactful statistic though, as you don’t buy tyres by the millimetre. A brand new budget tyre from the Far East will be new, won’t be harbouring a secret past and will last longer. Depending on the size and brand of the part-worn, the price difference will be tens rather than hundreds of pounds.
Whatever the various rights and wrongs of fitted used tyres to a car, the oft-quoted (but no less true) point about tyres being your only point of contact with the road remain true, and it doesn’t make sense to take chances with them.
The biggest reason for the popularity and perception of the part-worn tyre over a remould must be due, at least in part, to the name.
‘Part-worn’ makes them sound like they useful and still have plenty of life in them. Tyresafe chairman Stuart Jackson suggests that switching the name to ‘part safe’ tyres would focus the mind of those who are weighing up whether or not to fit them.
Given the survey results, perhaps classing them ‘34% dangerous’ might equally do the trick.
But if forced to choose between a properly inspected, remanufactured and guaranteed remould, or a part-worn tyre of any sort, I’d definitely favour the former.