1 in 4 Motorists Never Check Their Tyre Tread Depth

What you need to know about your tyre tread depth

Almost a quarter of drivers have never checked the tread on their tyres, according to a survey. Research by tyre manufacturers Hankook found that 45 per cent hadn't checked in the past six months – and that four out of five drivers don't know the legal minimum tread depth.

Somewhat terrifyingly, only 47 per cent said they would replace their tyres as soon as they reached the legal limit – and 14 per cent said they would only consider buying new tyres if they had a puncture.

What is the legal minimum tyre tread depth?

The minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm. You can check this using a tread depth gauge, which you can buy from a car parts store, or you can use a 20p piece – if the outside rim disappears, the tread is deep enough.

The penalty for driving with tyres which don't have enough tread is a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points – both per tyre. So four bald tyres could get you a ban.

Why are worn tyres dangerous?

Worn tyres don't grip the road so well, especially in wet weather. This means a car will have less traction, cornering and braking will be harder, stopping distances will be longer, and aquaplaning will be more likely.

The shallower the tread, the less grip the tyre will have, even if it is within the legal limit. Most new tyres have at least 8mm of tread, which will mean they take around 26m to stop in wet weather. Reduce the tread to 3mm and that increases to 32m. Get to the legal limit, and it's 40m – almost half as long again as a new tyre.

What do the codes on the side of the tyre mean?

Your tyres will have various numbers and letters on which tell you about its size, structure and characteristics. Here is a quick summary.

Let's say your tyre has these markings on: 225/55 R 17 97 W.

225 is the tyre width in mm.

55 is the aspect ratio of the tyre, which means the height of the sidewall (the side of the tyre) expressed as a percentage of the tyre width.

R: this tells you about the type of structure the tyre has.

17: the inside diameter of the tyre.

97: this tells you how much load the tyre can bear.

W: this tells you the maximum speed at which the tyre can safely go.

Part-worn tyres

The mycarneedsa.com website, which reported the survey, also warned about the risks of buying second-hand tyres, usually called part-worn tyres, after safety organisation TyreSafe found that 99 per cent of traders in England and Scotland were selling part-worn tyres that were illegal.

“New tyres can be purchased at many different costs. It is always worth getting quotes from several reputable tyre dealers,” the website said.

When you buy from Carwise Group, you have the peace of mind that comes with choosing a reputable used car dealer. We sell a range of used carsof a variety of makes and modelsat ourdealerships in Kent and Essex. You can see everything that's in stock on our website, and call us to book a test drive on 01622 233151 or 01279 216163.

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