The risks associated with used tyres outweigh the savings

Dear Editor,

I have read newspaper articles and listened to the opinions of several persons on the issue of used tyres. A lot of the arguments in favour of used tyres are false and misleading. As a mechanical engineer, vehicle owners would regularly ask me for advice on the repair of their motor vehicles or machinery.  First let me make it clear that as an engineer and the proud owner of a vehicle I do not recommend used tyres; I will never buy used tyres, never have and never will.

I simply do not think buying used tyres, also known as part worn, is a very safe proposition. If we really take a good look at the real reason why some motorists prefer to buy used tyres it is because they are cheap; no other reason.

We should first ask ourselves how many things we know that are cheap and used and also good? Last long? And are safe to use?

When a tyre is new it has about 8mm of tread and by the time it is reduced to 1.6mm it has to be thrown away. If the tread is down to 3-4mm this means it has already given its best. When considering purchasing a used tyre you can test the depth of the tread by using a Guyana one-dollar coin.

Simply turn the coin to the face that has the Coat of Arms, place it inside each of the tyre’s tread grooves. If the entire coat of arms can be seen from any of the grooves then the tread is too low; if half of the coat of arms can be seen the tyre tread is fair; if only the Amerindian head-dress is visible then the tyre tread is excellent. However, even if the tread is still good, you will need to carry out an inspection for any defects.

Part worn tyres will not stop as fast and will be more likely to skid on wet surfaces. You hear on the news about drivers who survived an accident saying that they lost grip or control of their vehicle. This can be caused by substandard rubber, and not the lack of tread. Many of the tyres which filter into the part-worn market have a defect of some kind. Defects can lead to them failing at speed, leading to a loss of control. There is simply no guarantee that used tyres are good and safe or would even last long. One cannot tell if a used tyre is good just by looking at it; tread wear is not visible, and used tyres can have internal damage that is invisible. One should take into consideration the age of the tyre, and I do not recommend using a tyre that is more than five years old. We cannot tell the history of a used tyre, and if the tyre was damaged and improperly repaired. Was it painted black to look new? Was it used while underinflated, overinflated or overloaded? Over time the structural makeup or materials of the tyre can become weak or break away, especially if it was exposed constantly to hazardous roads (rough terrain and potholes), harsh weather (cold and great heat), all these conditions can cause a break away in the chemical compound causing the tyre to fail.

Motorists should ask themselves whether it is wise to use a tyre that has served its functional time. Would they continue to use a low quality tyre that can possibly blow out at any time and can lead to an accident? Is the life of a passenger worth a cheap low-quality tyre? Are Guyanese not deserving of a quality lifestyle? There should not be a price on safety. Part worn might seem like a good idea to reduce expense, but the risks and dangers outweigh the savings.

Yours faithfully,

Leslie Sobers (Jr)


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