"Rogue" used tyre sellers are endangering the lives of motorists up and down the country, according to local councils.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales, found that nearly half of used tyres in some areas are being sold illegally. The organisation says the so-called part-worn tyres are sometimes sold with serious safety defects, unsafe repairs and incorrect labelling, and it is urging motorists to be vigilant when they consider buying used rubber.

According to the LGA, prospective buyers of part-worn tyres should check they are in good condition, with no cuts or bulges and plenty of tread left over. The organisation also says used tyres should bear the required 'part-worn' tyre marking, which shows that the tyre has been checked over and meets legal requirements.

Tyre with damaged tread

The gravity of that advice is shown by recent government statistics, which revealed that 719 road casualties were also recorded in reported UK accidents in 2017 where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were a contributory factor. Worse still, over the same period, some 17 people died in accidents caused - at least in part - by tyres in poor condition.

But the LGA says the onus is also on the used tyre trade to clean up its act. The organisation has warned unscrupulous sellers of illegal used tyres they face not only the confiscation of their stock, but also prosecution, which could lead to a sizeable fine and even prison.

Mechanic checking tread depth on a car tyre for wear

“Dangerous part-worn tyres are putting motorists' lives at risk and blatant, inexcusable breaches of the law are happening with shocking prevalence in some areas,” said Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board. “Cheap used tyres might be tempting to buy but if they don’t have the correct legal markings, motorists could unknowingly buy illegal tyres which could contribute to a major accident.

“Motorists buying used tyres should go to a reputable trader and check they have ‘part-worn’ stamped on them as without this mark, they are unlikely to have been checked and the retailer is breaking the law. They should also look out for any cracks, tears, lumps and check the state of the thread before buying.

Bald tyre with very little tread remaining

“Used tyres might not be the best investment. New tyres are available to suit all budgets, provide a safer option and should last longer, meaning they may offer better value for money in the long term. Selling illegal used tyres to unsuspecting customers is a really serious offence and we encourage all motorists to report potential breaches of the law.”