New laws banning older tyres could come into force by early 2020

Would the tyre age limit eventually extend to cars?
The current UK Government proposals focus on the age effect on tyres fitted to large vehicles, like buses and HGVs, and whether older tyres should not be used on large vehicles. Whether the idea of an "older tyre ban" for cars might follow at some stage is clearly possible.

Concern is growing over the lack of an age limit on tyres fitted to cars in the UK
Whilst tyre wear for modern cars tends to be higher because most do high mileages, generally classic cars don't do large annual mileages so the wear rate of tyres fitted to classic cars is much lower. Consequently classic cars are much more likely to be seen running on old tyres. But what are "old tyres"?

The suggested age limit for tyres is 10 years which could provide a legal limit whereas other sources suggest that tyres of over 7 or 8 years old can show signs of hardening of the rubber and consequential handling and safety concerns.

Tyres never stop vulcanising, they just get harder and harder over time which means they can have all the tread remaining but because of the hardening of the rubber and reduced flexibility of the rubber, that leads to reduced grip and consequently reduced roadholding and braking performance, particularly in the wet.

How to read the tyre wall markings to find the age of a tyre

A survey carried out earlier this year by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) revealed that 33% of members surveyed could not tell the age of a tyre from the codes on the sidewall of a tyre.
They should see our guide to reading the markings on tyre sidewalls. More

See our previous news item in February 2019 on calls for the maximum age of tyres to be limited

Tyre safety concerns with classic cars
See our news item released in November 2018. More

Posted: 190623

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has announced that "new laws banning older tyres on large vehicles to improve road safety could be introduced later this year. Tyres aged 10 years and older would be banned from use on buses, coaches, lorries and minibuses in new proposals being consulted on from today (23rd June 2019). If supported, the new rules could be in force by early 2020.

Road Safety Minister Michael Ellis said "our priority is keeping people safe on our roads, and we are taking action to reduce the number of people killed or injured. There is increasing evidence that age affects the safety of tyres, which is why I think older tyres should not be used on large vehicles.

The consultation, which runs for 10 weeks, asks whether older tyres should be banned on buses, coaches, lorries and minibuses as well as whether this ban should be extended to taxis and private hire vehicles. It follows other measures the Government has put into place since 2012.

Bus operators have been advised not to use older tyres at the front of their vehicles. Inspections of 130,000 buses by the DVSA since 2017 showed only 0.06 per cent were in breach of the guidance. The DVSA also updated its guidance on maintaining roadworthiness saying tyres aged 10 years and older should not be used on the front axles of heavy goods vehicles, as well as buses and coaches.

A growing body of evidence includes research commissioned by the Department for Transport and published last week, which shows ageing tyres suffer corrosion which could cause them to fail. The evidence also includes reports from two fatal crashes – one involving a coach on the A3 in 2012, and another on the M5 in 2017, involving a heavy goods vehicle.

The consultation follows continued work to establish the impact of age on tyre performance. Today’s consultation comes ahead of a refreshed Road Safety Statement and two-year action plan, which will be published shortly."
See DVSA report
A few classic car traders have shown worrying lack of awareness of tyre ageing
Although over recent years the awareness of the ageing effects on tyre rubber
and the consequent safety implications from reduced grip, braking and roadholding are better known, there have been some alarming cases of ignorance or worse. Reports
Growing call for an age limit on cars in the UK
Concerns are growing over the need for regulations imposing limits on the age of tyres fitted to cars in the UK. For classic car enthusiasts that highlights several issues, not least the effects of of tyres ageing and how an age limit on tyres could be policed? See alongside.

For classic car enthusiasts the growing concerns with a tyre age limit highlight several issues, not least the two below:

If an age limit is introduced how would it be policed?
With most classic cars becoming eligible for MOT exemption, if owners decide to self declare their vehicle a Vehicle of Historic Interest (VHI) and claim MOT exemption they may then never get an annual inspection. Of course an MOT exempt vehicle can always have a voluntary MOT test or a similar inspection and many responsible bodies recommend they do so. Many classic car owners can also see an annual test or inspection is a wise precaution because even a diligent owner can miss safety issues when maintaining and inspecting their classic car.

What age limit is suggested?
Douglal Cawley of Longstone Tyres suggests 10 years as an upper limit unless storage is or has been perfect - adding "the people who make them store them best", but in such cases "they should be sold no more than 5 years after they were produced". The Department for Transport has at this stage indicated "it would not be drawn either way regarding age limits on classic car tyres". The results of its tyre age test backed by DVSA and Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain will be published later in 2019.