Warning over using tyres that are sub-standard on SA roads

Moving vehicles on a road.

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition says illicit tyres are not only used tyres found in the informal market but also new tyres that slip through the regulation process. Picture: David Ritchie/Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 19, 2024

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Consumers who purchase tyres for their vehicles that do not meet regulatory standards can face safety risks themselves and it can impact on other motorists.

This was according to the AA which was commenting after the issue of sub-standard tyres was recently raised.

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition says illicit tyres are not only used tyres found in the informal market but also new tyres that slip through the regulation process.

Department spokesperson Bongani Lukhele told “The Mercury” that South Africa did have an issue with tyres that did not meet the regulatory standards.

“There are tyres that are supposed to be issued with approval (Letter of Authority or LOA) before being in the country and they find a way through to the markets without going through this process,” he said.

Lukhele said the challenges with regulating the sector was that tyres were sold and used in the informal markets and not all of them met compulsory standards.

He said the importation of used tyres on the premise that they are still to be retreaded can be problematic.

“These tyres sometimes are sold as is to consumers without being retreaded as per the condition of their importation.”

He said the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) regulates new tyres and the illicit trade in these tyres was a border enforcement issue.

“Importers mis-declare tyres in order to avoid duties, as well as regulatory compliance.”

Lukhele said the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) administered a system that regulated the import of second hand tyres.

“Second-hand tyres are only allowed by ITAC to be imported for the use by registered retreaders of tyres to be used as casings,” he said.

The NCRS said any NRCS-regulated product not complying with the relevant requirements of a compulsory specification and offered for sale is tantamount to committing illicit trade.

“Tyres offered for sale in the marketplace which have not undergone the applicable approval (homologation) process, may be deemed to be illegal (illicit) in terms of the law.”

The regulator said other role-players/authorities may define illicit tyres differently based on respective acts.

“For example, ITAC may view imported tyres which are traded in the marketplace for which an import permit has not been issued in terms of the ITAC Act, as illicit.”

AA spokesperson Layton Beard said tyres were a huge safety feature for vehicles.

“If there is a problem with the tyres, a motorist could lose control, veer off the road and endanger their lives and those of other road users,” he said.

Beard said tyres needed to be a priority and advised consumers to purchase tyres from reputable dealers with a good reputation, experience and solid footprint.

“Buying named or branded products helps to ensure that you get good quality products,” he said.

He also advised consumers to buy new tyres rather than getting them retreaded.

Ernest North, co-founder of Naked Insurance, said tyres needed to adhere to local regulatory standards and it was important for drivers to routinely inspect their tyres at a reputable tyre fitment centre.

He said the minimum tyres’ tread depth was 1mm across the entire width of the tyre and around its entire circumference, although most providers suggest 1.6mm as a safe level.

North advised that an insurance contract becomes invalid if you are not complying with legal regulations, or if you do not take reasonable care to avoid an accident when you are aware of an area of danger.

He said the tyres impact the car’s braking distance especially in wet weather.

“If you are in an accident and your insurer’s investigations show that the accident could have been prevented if your car’s tyres met legal roadworthy requirements, your claim will be rejected,” said North.

The Mercury