Cheap tyres are a dangerous option

Drivers urged to beware of scams that include forgery of use-by dates and the sale of low-grade Chinese knock-offs.

Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // Motorists should beware of a scam in which low-grade Chinese-made tyres are passed off as recognised brands.

Dealerships urged drivers to be cautious when buying replacements and described the fake-brand trend as common.

In addition to selling clumsily named knock-offs such as Denlop and Michelene, some sellers alter manufacturing and expiry dates with glue and extra numbers, official dealers said. So a tyre expiring in 2014 could be changed to read 2016.

In October, the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma) made it compulsory for sellers to fit radio frequency identification device (Rfid) stickers to each new tyre.

But industry experts said there needed to be more awareness among drivers themselves.

They believe most motorists buy the tyres in the belief they are good quality brands being sold at discounts.

Talal Mosleh, branch manager at Al Masaood Bridgestone, said substandard tyres can be particularly dangerous because of the stress placed on tyres by the UAE climate.

He said: “If buyers don’t see this sticker pasted on the tyre, [they should] never buy it. Using such ambiguous and substandard tyres is very dangerous in the UAE’s hot climate.

“I’ve come across cheating in the market, changing the year digit. Even selling used tyres is not allowed and violators may face a fine of Dh50,000,” Mr Mosleh said.

The National spoke to a motorist who sent an employed driver to a dealer in Dubai for four new tyres – only to find they were old tyres that had been altered.

“Once he checked closely he noticed that the last digit, 6, was simply glued over the previous number on all four tyres,” said the car owner, who asked not to be identified. “The dealer had sold us expired tyres. I instructed my driver to return to the dealer and tell him to immediately install brand new tyres or we would notify the police.”

The owner said the company then changed the tyres.

“When driving back to the office, my driver noticed a significant difference in the new tyre’s performance,” he said. “It handled much better and had much better grip when braking.”

Ahmed Askar, from Tyre Plus, an authorised Abu Dhabi dealer for Michelin, said too many Chinese brands were available in the market and “small outlets are selling fake tyres as branded ones, which are much cheaper than the genuine tyres”.

“For example, with a branded Michelin, we sell an R16 saloon car tyre for Dh300,” he said. “But Chinese-manufactured ‘Michelines’ are sold in the market at Dh200.”

Thomas Edelmann, founder of the campaign group RoadSafetyUAE, said substandard tyres could lead to fatal accidents.

“We always recommend people get tyres from trusted brands and stay away from second-hand tyres,” he said.

“Old tyres are not only dangerous to the person driving the car, but threaten others’ lives if they burst.”

Esma did not respond to requests for comment.