Tuesday 26th of March 2019
Are my tyres legal to drive?
Important please note that you should always check the most current information from a government website as this information is subject to change and might not be accurate at the time of reading.
The law in the UK says that a car’s tyre tread should be at least 1.6mm in depth throughout a continuous band in the centre 3/4 of the tread and around the entire circumference.
This is the same law for vans, trailers and caravans as long as they don’t exceed 3500Kg.
For most other vehicles including motorcycles over 50cc the law says the tyre tread has to be:
1. At least 1mm throughout a continuous band across at least 3/4 of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference. The original tread pattern must be clearly visible in the remaining quarter.
2. At least 1mm where the original pattern did not extend beyond three-quarters of the breadth of the tread
For motorcycles under 50cc the law says:
* The original tread pattern must be clearly visible.
For all vehicles, the law also says that your tyres should NOT:
1. Have a cut bigger than 25mm/ 10% of the section width of the tyre, (whichever is the greater) which is deep enough to reach the ply or cord.
2. Have a lump/bulge or tear/ partial fracture of its structure.
3. Have any portion of the ply or cord exposed.
4. Have a defect that might cause damage to the road surface/ persons on or in the vehicle or using the road.
The law also says that your car tyres should:
* Be suitable in regard to the vehicle's use or to the types of tyres fitted to the other wheels (this does not apply to temporary use spare tyres).
* Only be suitably inflated for the use to which the vehicle or trailer is put.
* Be maintained in fit condition for the use to which the vehicle or trailer is put.
How can I tell quickly if the tyre tread is legal?
Use a 20 pence piece and insert it into the tread grooves. If you can’t see the outer band on the coin then your tyres are above the legal limit.
What is a tyre tread?
The tread is the name given to all the grooves in the tyre which allow a tyre to grip to the road. A tyre starts life with a tread of approximately 8mm but as it used and naturally degrades, the width is worn away which in turn reduces the ability of the tyre to grip to the road. This reduction in grip increases stopping distances and the risk of aquaplaning.
What else should I consider about my tyres?
Tyres are made from rubber which will degrade over time. Even if you don’t use your car and the tyres don’t get much use, they will still degrade over time. This will cause the rubber to be thinner, weaker and more susceptible to tears and cracks. Whilst you want to have legal tyre treads, it is essential that your tyres be checked regularly to avoid the tyres being illegal through damage which could lead to an accident and/or injury.
How long should my tyres last?
Quality tyres can last for 3-5 years however there are a number of things that can be attributed to your tyres being worn away more rapidly: accelerating or braking harshly; under or over inflated tyre pressure; carrying excessive loads; and if your wheels are misaligned. You can have your car checked to see if your wheels are aligned correctly and we can correct the alignment should it be awry.
Do you know that the tread can affect stopping distances?
Even though the legal width for car tyre tread is 1.6mm, the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) have conducted their own research on how tyre tread can affect stopping distances. They have found that once a car tyre tread has decreased to less than 3mm, the stopping distance increases dramatically. Tyres with only 3mm of tread have an average 25% better performance than those at 1.6mm. This is the same as saying you will need an extra 8 metres stopping distance in wet conditions with 1.6mm tread.
What is the penalty for having bald tyres?
Not only could you have a serious accident but in the UK, a bald tyre (tread less than 1.6mm) will result in the police fining you £2500 and giving you 3 points on your license for each tyre that is bald.
How often should I check my tyres?
To avoid any concerns over safety as well as the potentially very costly result, it is therefore well worth checking your tyres monthly. When the tread is down to 2-3mm in width, book it into to us and we can replace them.
If you are in any doubt about whether your vehicle needs new tyres then you should visit us and we can have our mechanics inspect them.