Are Your Tyres Legal?

Driving with damaged or worn tyres puts you at risk of being fined, having your licence endorsed with penalty points, invalidating your car insurance and putting your life in danger. Your tyres are responsible for your car’s traction and braking distance, making them one of the most vital components to your safety.

Tyres and the Law

The law is very clear on the ‘health’ of tyres. All vehicles using UK roads are to be fitted with the correct size and type of tyre for the vehicle. All tyres are required to be inflated to their recommend tyre pressures and have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm.

If the police inspect your tyres and find them to be illegal, you may receive a fixed penalty notice, or in Scotland a conditional offer notice. The police officer can then issue 3 points per tyre on your driving licence. If your tyres are in incredibly poor condition, you can be reported for prosecution, face a fine of £2,500 per tyre and be disqualified from driving.

How to Check Your Tyres

You can use either a 20p piece or a tyre tread gauge to ensure that your tyre tread is within the legal limit of 1.6mm. Checking your type tread depth is simple, ensure that your car is in a safe place and you have access to your tyre. Use your gauge to take readings from across the tyre, if the gauge reads over 1.6mm right across the tyre it is safe to drive. When using a 20p piece, follow the same procedure, but use the outer banner of the coin as a reference. If you cannot see the banner, the tyre is safe to drive on.

Many Tyres now have tread wear indicators, these indicators are small raised areas of rubber at the bottom of the tyre groove. If your tyre surface level is with them, it’s time for new tyres! It is important to note that although the legal limit is 1.6mm, tyre efficiency is reduced when the tyre tread is below 3mm.

Tyre Pressure

Having the correct tyre pressure is a legal requirement and if adhered to will improve fuel consumption, handling and tyre. You can usually find your recommended tyre pressures on a sticker on the inside door frame.

A lot of petrol stations have digital air pressure machines; you may also choose to check your tyres at home with your own pressure checker. To measure your tyre pressure, simply place the gauge over the top of your tyre valve (after removing the cover) and the reading will be displayed. Depending on the reading, you will then be able to add or release air in your tyres until you meet the correct pressure. You can usually find your recommended tyre pressures in either your vehicles manual or the inside of your driver’s door, sometime the pressures are located on the inside of your fuel cap.

If you want to find out more information, read our extensive tyre pressure guide.

Damage and Wear

Checking your tyres for damage and wear is often overlooked. You should regularly check your tyres for slits, tears or bulges which can affect the safety of the vehicle. If your tyres are wearing down in one area quickly, it may be a sign your wheels need re balancing. Not only does checking for damage to your tyres help keep you safe on the road, it can also help to lower your driving costs.

If you're looking for more tyre advice, head over to our Help & Advice page, where you will discover more about tyres, your car and life on the road.