Ensuring your tyres are roadworthy

Making sure you tyres are safe

Relying on your annual MOT to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy can be a risky business, particularly when it comes to tyres. As a driver, you take on a certain amount of responsibility for keeping on the right side of the law with regards to your car’s safety. Here’s how you can avoid penalties or invalid insurance by making sure your tyre safety is up to scratch.

What is the minimum acceptable tyre tread depth?

The law states that the tread depth of a tyre must be a minimum of 1.6mm across the main three quarters of the tyre, around the whole circumference. If part or all of this area is below that, the tyre is illegal and must be replaced immediately.

Although the legal limit is 1.6mm, it is widely recommended that tyres are changed when the tread depth reaches 3mm. This is to minimise the risk of incurring a fine of up to £2,500 and penalty points for each worn tyre. It also ensures that your car’s grip is sound, particularly in winter when the roads tend to be more slippery

When to check tyre pressure

Tyre pressure should be checked regularly – every one to two months. All should be at their recommended tyre pressure, which is detailed in the manufacturer’s manual and on a sticker inside the driver’s side door.

Under-inflated tyres can mean a dip in performance and fuel economy, so it’s worth ensuring they’re at the correct pressure. Remember that if you are increasing the load in your vehicle, you’ll need to inflate them a little more too.

To check your tyre pressure, use a pressure gauge when the tyres are cool. Unscrew the valve cap, attach the gauge and take a reading. If it’s over or underinflated, let out some air or inflate the tyre to match the manufacturer recommendation. Remove the gauge and replace the cap quickly to avoid air escape.

What are the guidelines for tyre condition?

Tyres are expected to be in a roadworthy condition, which means there are no bumps, bulges or tears. Check that the inside fabric or cord isn’t exposed – if it is, it’s time to get a replacement. There should also be no cuts or cracks longer than 25mm, and foreign bodies such as nails need to be repaired as soon as possible.

Are there recommendations around spare tyres?

As of 2016, there are no laws around the supply of a spare tyre. Many newer vehicles don’t include one and it isn’t a legal requirement to have one on board, but if you do decide to keep a spare handy, it must conform to the above tyre safety guidelines.

Book a vehicle check

At Carwise Group in Dunstable, Harlow and Maidstone, our technicians can check your tyres and ensure they are roadworthy. To book your vehicle in for a health check, or to arrange a tyre repair or replacement, contact us today.