Fake Michelin Tyres aren’t like Fake Versace – Make sure you don’t buy fake tyres

Don’t compare Michelin Tyres to Versace

You know when you go to the market, or maybe on holiday to a far off destination, and see that bargain that’s too good to be true – the authentic imitation Rolex or genuine reproduction Versace ­– you just got to have it? Well, there’s a flood of fakes hitting the markets of a far more dangerous type – fake tyres and wheels. Unlike fake Versace, fake Michelin tyres present a lethal threat to your family and other road users.

When it comes to the odd rogue watch or handbag, it’s really a bit of fun. You don’t expect the item to last. A broken handle is not likely to harm anyone. But fake tyres and wheels posing as real are a different proposition: they have the potential to kill.

Counterfeit wheels are here in Australia

A report published in October last year pointed out how serious the problem of counterfeit wheels is here in Australia. Most are imported from China and sold in a variety of ways, including online auction sites. The majority of counterfeit wheels are prone to buckling or having chunks taken out of them. They might have hidden hairline fractures and lack proper internal support, and are commonly made from a combination of scrap alloy and raw material – the genuine thing is made only from raw material.

Imagine hitting a pothole on a busy street next to a school as the children are coming out at the end of the day, and your wheel disintegrates… the possible consequences don’t bear thinking about.

The problem is even worse when it comes to fake tyres, now exported to all parts of the world, predominantly from China.

Fake tyres aren’t a new problem

Fake tyres have been an increasing problem around the world for a decade or more. In 2005, Michelin estimated that the European market had suffered from around 10,000 fake truck tyres. The company promised to do something about the problem. In 2007, Michelin took its case to the European Union and wrote to 5,000 tyre distributors to warn them of the problem and the danger of using cheap substandard ‘Michelin’ tyres imported from Asia.

Last year, a survey by TyreSafe and Highways England showed that one in four drivers had at least one fake tyre on their car. That’s a total of 10 million fake tyres on the road in the UK alone.

The UK is 10,000 miles away from China. We’re an awful lot closer. I couldn’t find any official figures on the number of fake tyres on Australian roads, but the problem is likely to be at least as bad I would think.

How bad can a fake tyre be?

Saving a few dollars might seem a good idea at the time (and no one denies that tyres came seem like an expensive item). If two tyres look like they’ve been made by the same company, it can be difficult to choose the more expensive one.

The problem is that fake tyres are made from inferior materials, and they are manufactured in a different way. They don’t get tested and don’t benefit from quality control. You’ll find that the tread depths are smaller, and this causes problems when braking – just two millimetres less tread and you’re looking at 14 metres further to stop.

My advice is to avoid the fakes at all costs because the cost could be someone’s life.

Don’t be fooled by faked tyres

It can be tough to spot a fake tyre. A bargain price is a pointer, but it’s not always the case that cheaper tyres are counterfeit – what if the distributor is having a sale, for example? Here are three things to do to make sure you don’t buy fake tyres:

  1. Always check the brand name and tyre engraving. Look long and hard at the writing on the tyre. You might see a brand name spelt a little differently, or the wording in a different order to usual: compare the markings on the tyre to the real thing by searching the internet and checking the combinations online.
  2. Measure the tread depth and compare to legal requirements and the specifications of the genuine tyre (again, use an online search before you visit the tyre shop). If the tread depth is less than the manufacturer quotes, then you’re looking at a fake or a used tyre.
  3. Only ever buy tyres from an authorised stockist with a long track record. A tyre dealer worth their salt will only stock the real deal, and will store them correctly. The genuine new tyres will then be fitted correctly, and aligned to prevent unnecessary wear and increase the drivability of the vehicle. Look to see that the dealer stores its tyres in a shaded and ventilated area that is free from dust and oil.

Stay safe on the roads, and avoid the fakes. A little vigilance when you’re buying new tyres could, literally, make a lifetime of difference.

If you’d like to know more about tyre maintenance, or how the tyres on your vehicle should be rotated, give us a call on 3333 5510.


Kevin Wood

About the Author

Kevin has been at the forefront of the tyre industry for over 20 years. Kevin's speciality is in industrial and commercial tyres including the management and upkeep of fleets. Kevin has worked with vehicles his whole career from painting, mechanical, suspension and panel beating he has also spent time in the Australia Army as a driver. He has driven all size of vehicles throughout his career so understands the demands placed on drivers.