Buying a Used Car in January?

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Watch Out for the Tyres Says Continental

In the current economic environment, many Irish car buyers are opting for used cars rather than new models. However, for the January 2010 buying period, Continental Tyres is advising prospective buyers to keep an eye on the tyres on second hand cars as they can seriously affect the safety of the car. Tyres in poor condition, for example, can suggest a general neglect of the car over its previous life.

More specifically, Continental claims that mixing tyres (different brands / specification), sometimes on the same axle, not only indicates neglect but also has safety implications for the buyer. A car that has tyres with different specifications fitted can have its performance adversely impacted by the mismatched tyres.

A recent survey of used car forecourts in Ireland suggests there is a widespread practice of mismatched tyres on cars for sale.

60 percent of cars surveyed by Continental were on mixed tyres, sometimes as many as four different tyres. 38 percent of cars had dissimilar tyres across a single axle. In many cases the oddment tyres were Asian or other budget brands. These have been found to have inferior performance to premium tyres, especially in wet conditions. In all, over one-third of the cars examined had at least one budget tyre.

“There’s a saying that shoes can tell a lot about a man, and the same applies to a car,” comments Paddy Murphy of Continental Tyres. “It’s not easy for the used car buyer to assess the quality of the car he or she is considering. Tyres can be a really useful tell-tale sign.”

Even cars from certified quality used programmes were found to have mixed tyres, often premium brands alongside budget tyres. “Customers should insist that these cars come fitted with the same tyres, as specified in the owner handbook. They should also look out for the e-marking on the tyre sidewall, the absence of which could indicate an unsafe tyre.” Such tyres, which were found on several of the cars surveyed, are illegal across the EU and under draft regulations being considered by the Road Safety Authority, tyres without the e-mark would lead to a failure of the NCT for any car with such tyres