Part Worn Tyres

What you need to know

The sale of Part Worn Tyres (PWTs) is a perfectly legal & legitimate operation, if properly carried out.  The reuse of good quality PWTs from ‘end of life vehicles’ is one of the long-term success stories in vehicle recycling.  It makes the best possible use of an item that is difficult and expensive to recycle, by extending its useful life.  It helps keep vehicle recyclers in business & it saves the consumer significant amounts of money for what is, when all is said & done, a ‘distress purchase’.

There is a lot of bad publicity about PWTs but most of this originates from the new tyre manufacturers, who want customers to be buying expensive new tyres, and have no concerns about resorting to ‘dirty tricks’.  However, consumers do need to understand that although there is legislation governing the sale of these items, it is poorly enforced, & there are inevitably some ‘cowboys’ out there that are only too happy to cut corners.  So you need to make sure that any PWT you purchase is sourced from a reputable dealer, such as an MVDA member.

You can find the legislation relating to Part Worn Tyres here

The MVDA represents the professional vehicle recyclers, who conform to the legislation, and to the MVDA Code of Practice.  You can find your local MVDA member using the ‘Locate a Member’ feature.  Many MVDA members also offer a fitting service.

Most vehicles reach the end of their lives through no connection to the state of the tyres.  The vast majority of cars are scrapped because of bodywork corrosion, major mechanical failure or minor accident damage.  Up until the point of scrapping most ELVs are in use & so have perfectly legal tyres.

A brand new tyre has an 8mm tread depth.  The legal tread-depth limit in the UK is 1.6mm – as indicated by the ‘wear bar/ indicator’ on the tyre.  It is illegal to sell PWTs with less than 2mm tread remaining, or with uneven tread wear.  But many PWTs have significantly more tread remaining than this.

Here are a few things to be aware of when considering purchasing PWTs.

  • All PWTs should be marked as such & should be clearly distinguishable from new tyres at the point of sale
  • Insist on examining all PWTs before they are fitted.  Look for signs of damage inside as well as outside.
  • There should be no significant sidewall damage & no repairs to the side wall
  • There should be no lumps or bulges
  • The tread should be evenly worn across the tyre surface.  A tyre with 5mm tread in the middle but 2mm at the edge (or vice versa) is illegal

We strongly recommend that you do not buy PWTs by mail order as there is no way to know whether they have been checked, & some faults may only become apparent when the tyre is fitted to the wheel fully inflated to working pressure & balanced.  A good PWT retailer will be able to do all of this for you.  Look for the MVDA logo as a sign of a quality retailer.

Fantastic savings on PWTs

An MVDA survey to look at the costs of using PWTs demonstrated that quality PWTs offer huge cost savings on new tyres.  The figures below show that typically a PWT will cost less than ½ that of a new tyre, & even when looking at the cost per mm of tread, there’s still a big advantage.


Tyre Size Cost (new) Cost (PWT) Saving Saving on new (%)
155/70/13 £45 £17 £28 63%
185/65/14 £55 £22 £33 60%
195/50/16 £65 £27 £38 59%
205/50/17 £110 £40 £70 64%