Tyres – Inflated Perceptions of Quality
Just because a tyre is unused does not mean that it is new. The CAI is recommending consumers ask the age of tyres before they buy.
Consumer Choice May 2013
In its May issue, Consumer Choice looks at the problems associated with tyre age and the need for consumers to be aware of the safety issues involved.Unused tyres can become dangerously unfit for purpose without ever having spent a day on the road.
Car tyres are very vulnerable to the aging process, even when they are not in use, and an aged tyre fitted to a vehicle can lead to potentially fatal consequences. Like all rubber products, tyres have a limited service life as their physical and chemical properties change over time. With age, a tyre’s components dry out, causing the adhesion between them to break down and facilitating tread separation. In most cases, tread depth is used as a suitable indication of when tyres need to be replaced because tyres generally wear out before they become unserviceable due to aging.
However, infrequent use and poor storage can hasten the aging process, making tyres unroadworthy. There is a growing awareness that some tyres will age out before their treads wear out. Information provided to the CAI indicates that some consumers have bought what they believed to be new tyres, only to discover that these tyres were in fact perished and needed to be replaced immediately due to safety concerns. The RSA recommends that “tyres that have been in storage should not be placed into use if they are more than six years old.” However, this is a message that does not seem to be adequately communicated to some garages and other tyre retailers.
In the absence of regulation on sell-by dates, the CAI urges consumers to ask the age of any tyres they are about to purchase, as although they may look new, they may in fact have been in storage for a significant period. Dermott Jewell, CEO, advises “We are highlighting what is a new issue for consumers who pay very significant sums of money for new tyres. Reputable traders will have no difficulty in providing this basic detail regarding the production date of the tyre they are offering for sale. If they cannot or will not then we suggest consumers take their business elsewhere”. Sometimes aging cannot be detected by the naked eye and yet the tyre may be extremely unsafe.
As Consumer Choice notes: “Consumers have a right to expect that “new” means new and not several years old, particularly when safety issues are involved.”
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