Tyre menace on KZN roads

2016-10-31 11:02
How regrooving a second-hand tyre is done.

How regrooving a second-hand tyre is done. (Supplied )

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A dangerous development on KwaZulu-Natal’s­­ roads is the use of re-grooved tyres by motorists wanting to save money.

Tyre regrooving is a quick, but extremely risky way to get more kilometres on an already used tyre with a bead diameter bigger than 430 mm. The business seems to be also thriving in Pietermaritzburg­.

Tyre “regroovers” use a special tool to deepen the existing grooves in an old tyre, then sell the tyres to unsuspecting motorists at a lower price.

The Witness recently identified several places at Imbali township and in the Pietermaritzburg CBD where the practice appears to be flourishing. On a visit to one such place, where a shipping container was turned into a workshop, it was found a size 15 regrooved tyre was being sold for just R250, and even then the price was open to negotiation.

This is around three times lower than the price of buying a similar brand-new tyre.

The KZN Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) said according to the National Road Traffic Act 93/96 (NRTA), the required tread depth is not supposed to be less than one millimetre, and in terms of Regulation 212 of the National Road Traffic Act, regrooving can only be done on tyres with bead diameter of 430 millimetres or less.

RTI spokesperson Zinhle Mngomezulu said the inspectorate have no control over tyre retailers. “Our task is to ensure that motorists comply with the regulations for tyres as per NRTA,” said Mngomezulu.

Police spokesperson Mthokosize Ngobese said the police were not aware of tyres falling outside the 430 mm bead diameter limit being “regrooved”, but they would investigate the matter in conjunction with the transport department.

Tyre manufacturer Continental said using any re-grooved tyre was extremely ill-advised and hazardous.

Jiminy-Ann Bosman, communications manager for Continental Tyres SA, said by law, tyres used on public roads must have a tread pattern. She said the main job of the tread pattern is to expel water that can affect tyres coming into contact with the road surface in wet conditions.

In addition, the tread pattern provides grip and adhesion. “On wet roads at high speeds, a wedge of water can build up between the tyre and the road surface. The tyre may then start to lose road contact or aquaplane, and the vehicle can no longer be steered.

“Sufficient tread depth is vital not only in such extreme situations. Even at low speeds, there is a greater risk of having an accident in wet weather if the tyres are worn,” said Bosman.

“Although tyres can be retreaded after reaching the legal wear limit, regrooving is not advisable,” Bosman said.

“The tread stock thickness is reduced and stones etc can easily penetrate and damage the steel belts, leading to rust formation.”

CEO of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa Riaz Haffejee recently voiced concern around the use of second-hand tyres for regrooving.

He said the contribution of poor tyre conditions to road accident statistics was alarming, and while a second-hand or “part-worn” tyre may seem a more affordable option for some consumers, it could cost them dearly if the tyres caused an accident.

A report released by the Road Traffic Management Corporation for the period January — December 2015 showed that vehicle maintenance factors contributed to 7,8% of all road fatalities, of which 78% were due to tyre-related issues.

“The use of second-hand tyres is a massive cause for concern and is a malady plaguing South Africa’s informal sector at present.

“In addition, the buyer has no knowledge of the tyre’s age or repair history, which can be equally dangerous,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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