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Thinking Out Loud About History, Laws and Run-Flat Tires


One of my favorite quotes is “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”


That was written by the Harvard educated Spanish philosopher, essayist and novelist George Santayana. Our collective history is well-dotted by instances where we failed to recall or understand past failings, only to be reminded once we have failed yet again.

But the root of that statement comes from British writer, drama critic, social commentator and philosopher William Hazlitt, who died in 1830, some 32 years before Santayana was born. His take was much deeper, and resonates even today.

“The origin of science is in the desire to know causes; and the origin of all false science and imposture is in the desire to accept false causes rather than none; or, which is the same thing, in the unwillingness to acknowledge our own ignorance.”


Little thought of at the time, Hazlitt is now considered among the greatest essayists and critics in British history.

I will think of Mr. Hazlitt’s statement often now.

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Seems a second-hand tire shop owner in Newcastle, England, was recently fined some $7,800 for housing some 1,500 used tires on his property. The owner of PJ Tyres apparently had no permit for the quantity of what the judged ruled were “waste tires” stored at his location.

He also was hit for an additional $2,000 in associated costs.

This has been a bit of an on-going issue, and now the court is cracking down, ordering him to dispose of all but 200 tires.

Rachael Caldwell of the country’s Environmental Agency said storage of a “significant numbers of waste tires on his land and the surrounding industrial estate illegally, creating a fire hazard. Those who operate illegally undermine legitimate businesses and waste crime has a detrimental impact on local communities and the environment.”


This whole thing got me to thinkin’….I have heard of and seen many used tire shops with substantial “inventory.” In some cases, literally thousands of other people’s waste stacked in warehouses or around a property. And we have all experienced hidden tire dumps and “businesses” that housed thousands of scrap tires that were being held for some future undefined reason. Those have been clearly marked as illegal operations, and fines and penalties have been levied.

Thinking out loud now…selling used tires may not (yet) be illegal, but what would happen if those same tires were defined as “waste” rather than “inventory”?


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Speaking of used tire sales, earlier this year a “part worn tire retailer” in Lincolnshire, England, was whacked with fines and costs totaling some $40,000 after being found guilty on 16 counts of “possessing and supplying dangerous products (unsafe used tires) as well as one count of supplying an incorrectly-sized spare tire and another of providing false information.”

Dodging a possible 12 years in jail on top of the monetary fine, Luke McKenzie also received a nine-month suspended sentence.

“We are extremely pleased that a significant number of dangerous part worn tires have been successfully removed from sale,” said Stuart Jackson, chairman of U.K. tire industry group TyreSafe. “It is also very encouraging that both the courts and Trading Standards recognize the gravity of this safety issue and are prepared to prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law. Other retailers should pay close attention to this verdict and ensure that if they are selling part worn tires, they are fully compliant with the relevant legislation.”


You see, unlike the U.S., the United Kingdom has actual laws and regulations governing the sale of used tires, and when one goes against such laws and regs, fines and jail time are waiting.

“TyreSafe has strongly voiced its concerns about the number of dangerous and illegal part worn tires being sold around the country,” according to Tyres & Accessories magazine. “It carried out its own mystery shopper investigation which found that more than a third of part worn tires being sold had dangerous forms of damage or non-compliance. It has subsequently been working closely with the National Tyre Distributors Association and many Trading Standards offices around the U.K., providing expertise, advice and even independent examiners, as in the case of Luke McKenzie, to assess tires and develop expert witness statements.”


Many of the tires Mr. McKenzie was offering for sale had serious defects and exhibited accident damage which undermined the basic structure of the tires.

Stefan Hay, NTDA director said: “We are delighted by the court’s decision to take this matter so seriously and act accordingly. We believe this demonstrates how essential the work of TyreSafe and the NTDA, to support Trading Standards in their investigations, has been in combatting non-compliant, illegal and unsafe part worn tires. This is just one of many cases we hope to see publicized this year.”

Although the legal minimum tread depth for tires in the U.K. is 1.6 mm, Tyres & Accessories wrote, a part-worn tire must have a minimum 2 mm tread depth across the whole of the tire before it can be legally sold. Tires must also be free from cuts, lumps or any other damages that compromise structural integrity, and are required to pass an inflation test.


The 1.6 mm minimum tread depth and 2 mm part-worn tread requirement are both, admittedly, far below what TyreSafe considers an adequate tread depth, the magazine reported. The safety organization states it is “advisable to consider replacing your tires well before they reach the legal minimum tread depth” and notes that tests conducted by the British Tyre Manufacturers’ Association show braking distances in wet weather to be almost 12 meters longer from 50 mph on tires with only 1.6 mm of tread depth compared with the stopping distance on new tires.

Wow….an industry group that actually polices its industry, and consumer protection laws and regs designed to keep drivers safe that are actually enforced. What kind of world do we live in?


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Recently there was a good article in Consumer Reports concerning the ongoing viability of run-flat tires.

You can read “Deflating Reality of Run-Flat Tires” by clicking here.

Consumer Reports has run a number of these type items in recent years. In this case, it’s a more personal; recounting of a driver’s experience with his run-flats, and the issues he faced with his 2012 BMW 550i. I’m sure some of your customers have had difficult times with run-flats, as well.

Part of the problem lies with drivers not understanding the potential downsides – non-repairability, sidewall failures, high cost of replacements, lack of spares, etc.

Wonder what the future of run-flats over the next five years might be?



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