Motorists are being warned by councils about the risks of buying second-hand tyres, with reports of 83% being sold illegally in some areas.
Trading standards officers say some part-worn tyres are being sold with serious safety defects, unsafe repairs and incorrect labelling. Some have been up to 23 years old.
The Local Government Association (LGA) urged motorists buying such tyres to check that they are in good condition and bear the required marking which confirms they have been checked and meet legal requirements.
Around 4.5 million part-worn tyres are sold in the UK every year.
The LGA says 16 people were killed and and there were more than 900 road casualties in 2015 where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were a contributory factor.
Sellers of illegal used tyres face confiscation of their stock and prosecution, which could lead to a hefty fine and a prison sentence.
Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said new tyres “provide a safer option and should last longer”.
He said: “The prevalence of dangerous used tyres for sale at some businesses is alarming, and irresponsible traders have got questions to answer because they are putting lives at serious risk.
“Cheap part-worn tyres might be tempting to buy but, if they don’t have the correct legal markings, motorists risk buying illegal tyres which could contribute to a major accident.
“It is also worth looking at how good a deal used tyres offer. 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.”
The Tyre Recovery Association (TRA) secretary general Peter Taylor admitted “a lot of people” were selling unsafe used tyres and said trading standards teams were under resourced but said that did not mean part-worn tyres themselves are intrinsically unsafe.
”After all, every car in this country is running on part-worn tyres in a sense,” he said. “We in the industry would like to ensure that all the part-worns that are sold have been properly examined and are safe for reuse.
”Perhaps that’s an industry responsibility. If we look at the waste hierarchy, reuse is somewhere near the top.”