Tread Depth and Safety

Tyre Depth

A new car tyre begins life with approximately 8mm of tread. The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm, however, most motoring organisations recommend changing your tyres at 2mm.

Driving with worn tyres is not only a serious safety risk, but a costly one too. In the UK, the fine for bald tyres is £2,500 plus three points on your licence per tyre, so it's really important to check them monthly for any signs of damage or wear.

What is tyre tread

Your tyre's tread is designed to keep the tyre in contact with the road. So, as your tyre wears, its ability to grip the road decreases, meaning longer stopping distances and a higher risk of aquaplaning. Although the legal minimum tread depth is only 1.6mm, independent research at MIRA shows that tyres with 3mm of tread have an average 25% better performance than those at 1.6mm - which represents an extra 8 metres stopping distance in wet conditions!

What causes tyre wear

Tyre Wear

The typical lifespan of a quality tyre is between three and five years. However, there are many factors that can cause rapid tyre wear, such as:

  • Incorrect tyre pressure. Having over or under inflated tyres can cause uneven tyre tread.
  • Driving style. Accelerating and braking harshly will damage your tyres, and may result in rapid air loss.
  • Overloading. A heavier car can cause your tyres to overheat, increasing the risk of an accident.
  • Alignment. Your tyres will wear unevenly if your wheels are misaligned.

Find out more about the different types of abnormal tyre wear.

How to check your tyre tread

You can check how close you are to the legal limit on all tyres by looking for the treadwear indicators:

treadwear indicators

These indicators are small raised areas at the bottom of the grooves. Once the surface of the tread rubber is level with these raised areas, the tyre tread depth is approaching the legal limit of 1.6mm and you should have your tyres checked and replaced.

Another way to check your tyre tread is to do the 20p test. Simply put a 20p coin into the grooves of the tyre. If the outer band of the coin is hidden when inserted, your tyre is above the legal limit.

Free Tyre Check

If you think your tyres might be due for replacement, book in for a Free Tyre Check today. Our expert technicians will carry out a pressure check and inspect for tread depth, wear and damage to ensure your tyres are safe and legal.