New research from tyre specialists Micheldever has found that an increasing number of motorists are driving with severely warn and dangerous tyres.
A shocking 58% of vehicles surveyed by Micheldever had at least one tyre that was below the legal tread depth of 1.6 mm and over 95% of vehicles had a tyre below 2 mm.
These figures are a sharp increase on those uncovered in 2008, where just 15.3% of vehicles had at least one illegal tyre and just over 64% had one tyre below 2mm.
The results suggest that the current challenging economic climate is driving consumers to purchase inferior or worn tyres at cheaper prices rather than opt for the more costly outlay of purchasing brand new replacement tyres.
"Tyres remain ridiculously low on the vast majority of motorists' priority lists," says Matt Smith, UK and Ireland Director for Falken Tyres.
Smith was also quick to point out the hidden 'false economy' to purchasing used tyres: "A used tyre with a tread depth of 3mm costs £20 and has 1.4mm of usable tread, resulting in a cost of £14.29 per millimetre.
"Conversely, a new tyre with a tread depth of 6mm costs £60 and has 4.4mm of usable tread, equating to a cost of £13.63 per millimetre and therefore makes new tyres the better value purchases for consumers."
Some dealerships have even found that cases of stolen used tyres are also on the rise, with opportunistic thieves circulating unsafe and illegal rubber on the black market.
While Falken's Matt Smith understands the financial pressure put on consumers to gravitate towards the cheapest tyres available, he does not believe the risks are worth the monetary saving: "As the safety of such tyres will be compromised, Falken will not allow badly worn tyres to filter back into the market and I urge all consumers not to entertain them at all."