Steer Clear of Ebay Used Tyres, Says Entyrety
eBay shoppers looking for a bargain are being warned to steer clear of second-hand tyres being sold on the site, after independent testing revealed that half of the used tyres listed on eBay are too dangerous for use and if fitted to a car could put lives at risk.
The warning follows research by Continental Tyres who commissioned technical specialists, Entyrety, to check the safety of the thousands of used tyres that are up for sale on eBay for as little as £5. Twenty used car tyres were purchased and tested to see how they performed in terms of legislation and safety.
One in five were over the recommended age limit for tyres, meaning that they could fail or ‘blow out’ on the road, a further 20 per cent contravened the ‘Sales of Goods Act’ by not having a legally-required ‘E’ marking and none of the tyres fully conformed with regulations which say that they should be marked as part worn.
Even more shocking was that two of the tyres were well below the minimum tread depth and were even bald in places. One tyre was found to have an illegal and dangerous repair and another had been stuck back together with superglue.
According to Entyrerty, eBayers only seem to be concerned with saving cash and have not considered the safety risks. Another survey, also commissioned by Continental Tyres, found that more than one in eight motorists have already bought, or would consider buying second-hand tyres from eBay – rising to one in three among 18-24 year olds.
Safety and quality spokesman from Continental Tyres, Roger Sanders, said: “The two key factors that will decide a tyre’s roadworthiness is how it has been driven and how it has been stored, neither of which can be determined when buying second-hand. It is nearly impossible to identify damage through a visual inspection, let alone just through photos shown on eBay. Buyers will not be able to tell if a tyre has already experienced damage through kerbing or other impacts.
“Buying second-hand might seem a cheap option for people on a budget, but it is just not worth the risk. Age cracking, low tread depth and damage to side walls are all bad news for tyres and could lead to a blow out while on the roads, which can be a very dangerous situation for both the driver and other road users. With no way of monitoring the quality of tyres for sale on its site, people’s lives are potentially being put in jeopardy.”
Alarmingly, one in five tyres were over 17 years old and several more showed age cracking and degradation. Continental says that while there is no global standard for the maximum age of tyres, most experts recommend removing tyres once they reach ten years old as at this age, the rubber could dry out which can cause the tyre to lose its shape or even worse, lead to a sudden and dangerous tyre failure or ‘blow out’. A further one in five tyres were fast approaching the recommended limit at nine years old and several of these were winter tyres which are recommended only to be used for four seasons.
Cracks and illegal repairs were also shown to be another serious safety risk. As well as one tyre boasting a superglue repair, another had an illegal repair on the tread edge which did not comply with British Standards guidelines and rendered it completely unfit for sale and unsafe for use on the road. Another had a visible crack in the rubber which, although legal, could force air to escape from the tyre when used. This means that it would be nearly impossible for the tyre to stay at the correct pressure, which is essential for safe driving. One of the test tyres had severe scoring and cuts on the shoulder which could indicate that it had been used on a car that was too small or that it had been involved in an accident, either of which would have a dramatic impact on the safety of the tyre.
One in ten also had tyre tread depths that were below the legal minimum of 2mm for part-worn tyres, not only making them illegal, but highly unsafe and a potential death-trap. Once a tyre has been worn away to this extent, not only will they have radically increased stopping distances and loss of grip, but the internal cords could become exposed, again potentially leading to dangerous blow outs.
Another point for concern is that 20 per cent of the tyres had no ‘E’ marking on the side. This immediately contravenes UK legislation, which requires all tyres to display this important marking under the ‘Sales of Goods Act’. None of the tyres tested were marked ‘part worn’ which is a legislative requirement for used tyres.
According to Continental Tyres, the problem of second-hand tyre sales has been accelerated by the new EC Landfill Directive, which has banned the dumping of used tyres on landfill. As a result, fly-tipping has become a nationwide problem with around 13 million tyres illegally dumped in the UK every year, providing rich pickings for opportunistic eBayers.
Roger Sanders says: “Illegal fly-tipping is a huge problem; it is not only a drain on finances for local authorities and landowners but supports criminal activity. Unfortunately, the worrying new trend in part-worn tyre trading on eBay is simply encouraging it as tyres can then be re-sold, making unscrupulous sellers rich through quick cash sales. We have written to eBay to urge them to review the way tyres are listed and sold on the site.”
To raise awareness of this issue Continental Tyres has joined forces with road safety body, RoadSafe, who supports Continental’s campaign to get eBay to review sales of second hand tyres on its site. RoadSafe’s spokesperson, Michael Parish, says: “Tyres have a direct impact on handling, braking and acceleration, and problematic tyres can seriously affect driving safety, so it is vital that drivers know what they’re buying. Many wrongly believe that buying second-hand tyres is a cheap fix, but what may seem like a bargain at the time could cost a lot more in the long run.
“The results of these tests clearly demonstrate the kind of tyres that you can get from the net today, and it is the general motorist who is at risk. While most people can spot poor tread depth and cracking on tyres, there is a lot of damage that is just not visible to the naked eye which is why we believe the practice of selling second-hand tyres on the internet – particularly on eBay – should be urgently reviewed.”