Main image for post: Don’t Be Bald and Risk Breaking the Law! Checking Tyre Tread Depth

Tyre tread depth… Do you know the law?

Not being aware of the UK’s tyre laws can be a costly motoring mistake. If you’re caught driving with bald or too-worn tyres you can be fined and you’ll get points on your license. This post will tell you the legal limit for the correct tyre tread depth – and some facts about the law.

Tyre maintenance is the responsibility of the driver. It’s recommended that tyre tread depth is checked on a weekly basis. Shocked? It’s true, we should be checking a lot more than we do.

Checking your tyres

When checking, you’re looking not just at the depth of the tread, but at the overall condition of the tyre, pressure, bumps and budges and any general damage or signs of irregular wear.

The legal limit for minimum tyre tread depth is 1.6 millimetres, across the central three-quarters of the tread around the whole circumference of the tyre.

While it’s important to replace tyres before they reach the edge of the legal limit to avoid penalties, it’s also crucial for safety.

Failure to maintain tyres to a legal standard can result in a Fixed Penalty Notice being issued, or even a court summons. And court could result in a £2,500 fine and three penalty points… PER tyre. Four bald tyres? That’s you disqualified from driving – all for having duff tyres!

And there’s more…

Don’t forget to ensure you’re driving with the right tyres and at the correct pressures. On top of tyre maintenance, UK laws require that all vehicles are fitted with the correct type and size tyre. This will obviously vary, dependent on the vehicle and the purpose it’s being used for.

It’s also a legal requirement to ensure that tyres of different construction types - radial and cross-ply – are not fitted to opposite sides of the same axle. Confused? Take your car to any reputable tyre centre (or to our Car Service Centre!) where a trained expert will help.

Can you mix and match?

As long as tyres are of the same construction type, it’s not against the law to mix brands and patterns. However, to avoid poor quality tyres, it’s recommended that drivers stick to recognised tyre brands. With tyres, it’s true that you get what you pay for. Our favourites?

  • Continental
  • Pirelli
  • Dunlop
  • Michelin
  • Bridgestone
  • Goodyear

UK tyre laws also state that your tyres must be ‘fit for purpose’ at all times. This means they must be free of any lumps, bumps, bulges or tears caused by a separation or partial failure of the compounds. A tyre must not have a cut or tear that’s larger than 25mm or 10% of the sectional width of the tyre; whichever is greater.

Common misconceptions about tyre tread depth

Motorists are often mistaken with tyre laws – a common misconception is that it’s a legal requirement to carry a spare tyre. This is not the case – it’s also not the case that your spare tyre must also comply with legal requirements including tyre tread depth whilst it’s stowed away.

However, once a spare is in use it must comply – so it’s important to maintain it to a similar level to the other four in use.

Measuring your tyre tread depth? Use our handy table to see how well yours shape up.

tyre-tread-depth table

If you need an expert to take a look at your tyres, pop in to our Car Service Centre. To book a full service for your car, simply call us on 0161 825 0990.