The closure of manufacturing facilities across China due to the COVID-19 coronavirus may reduce the supply of low-cost tyres to the aftermarket in Britain.

TyreSafe is advising motorists to think twice before turning to part-worns as an alternative.

Low-cost new tyres have become a popular choice in the UK for drivers on a budget and sales run into the millions each year. The vast majority of these are imported into the country from China and across South East Asia where the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to governments closing facilities such as schools and factories to limit the spread. As a consequence, the level of supply the UK has become accustomed to for many products has been reduced.

While stocks remain across Britain, it is inevitable these will become scarcer if the current approach to containing the spread of coronavirus continues. The concern among road safety organisations, and particularly TyreSafe, is car owners will be tempted by the price tag of part-worns and not consider the overall value of a new tyre.

Of the 252 part-worn retailers investigated by TyreSafe and Trading Standards across Britain an astonishing 94% were selling tyres illegally. A key requirement those non-compliant part-worn tyre sellers failed to comply with is the marking of tyres with the 'part worn' stamp. This stamp is critical as it is the only sign the motorist has that the tyre has been inspected before sale.

Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, said: "Car ownership can push owners' budgets to the limit and low-cost tyres have safely filled a need for those who have limited funds available to maintain their cars. However, if these owners are not able to find new tyres at this price point, there is a risk they will believe a similarly priced part worn offers the same value. TyreSafe's investigations prove this is not the case – in our experience, part-worn means part safe.

"Not only that, part-worns rarely last as long – driving up their lifetime cost. TyreSafe's advice is to seek a good deal on a mid-priced tyre and carry out regular checks to get the best out of that tyre over its full potential lifespan. Ensuring air pressure, condition and tread depth are properly maintained on a new tyre will minimise your risks and offer optimal value."