ABU DHABI // Dealers caught selling poor quality tyres or illegal used imports face imprisonment and a fine of up to Dh30,000.
Importing used tyres is against the law and tyres retreaded in the UAE must comply with strict quality controls.
Accidents caused by poor quality or incorrectly inflated tyres killed 20 people and injured 151 others in the first eight months of 2012, the latest figures available.
Worldwide, about 1.5 million people a year die in such incidents.
Watchdogs at the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology want to cut the death toll and are cracking down on companies that break the law.
"It is prohibited to import used tyres into the UAE. However, the sale of used tyres which are not imported is allowed provided they comply with the defined controls," said Mohammed Ahmad Al Mulla, the director of the authority's metrology department.
"Defaulters will be liable for punishment, which includes a jail term and a fine of no less than Dh30,000 or either of the two penalties, and all the materials subject of the violation shall be confiscated."
The authority imposed new rules on tyre dealers with a six-month grace period that ends next month. Dealers now need to produce certificates to prove that imported tyres are new and not used.
The UAE imports 5.8 million vehicle tyres a year and 25 companies specialise in retreading tyres, producing about 60,000 tyres a year. The lifespan of tyres is five years but they must be changed sooner if there is any defect or damage.
Dealers are banned from using tyres that are more than five years old, whether used or unused.
Tyres should be stored in a room with air-conditioning for a maximum of 24 months for light-vehicle tyres and 30 months for commercial-vehicle tyres.
Mr Al Mulla said factories that retread tyres must be registered with the authority and tyre dealers should ensure they were buying from a registered company before completing any purchase.
Last year, 15 tyre manufacturing companies registered and obtained approval from the authority.
The authority also warned drivers to be wary of unsuitable tyres that could burst, particularly in this hot season, and lead to fatalities.
Mr Al Mulla asked drivers to do a quick visual check each time before entering the car, looking at tyre pressure, cuts, bulges or splits on the tyres.
He also advised to check the tread wear indicator on each tyre and replace the tyre if there were any issues.