Tyres and the Law
The tyres on your vehicle are incredibly important – every control mechanism in the vehicle is completely dependent on the tyres ability to function properly – as a result, the UK’s tyre law is very clear:
- The minimum tyre tread depth is 1.6mm – this is measured across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire circumference.
- Tyre pressures must be maintained at the manufacturer’s specification – these can be found in the vehicle's handbook and in many cars, on the inside of the driver’s side door frame.
- Tyre condition – tyres should be free from cuts, heavy side wall damage, lumps or bulges and foreign objects such as nails.
Tyre Tread Depth
It’s vital that you check your tyres tread depth regularly, from both a legal and safety point of view. The legal minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm, and the police have the power to issue up to a £2,500 fine and 3 penalty points per tyre if they’re found to be below the legal limit.
More importantly is the safety implication of driving on tyres with less than 1.6mm of tread. Once a tyre wears down to 3mm of tread, its grip performance starts to deteriorate rapidly, and at 1.6mm in wet weather it takes on average an extra car length to stop from 50mph than it would for the same tyres with 3mm of tread in the same conditions.
Tyres with low levels of tread put you, your passengers and other road users at risk particularly in wet or icy conditions. There is a greater risk of the driven wheels breaking traction under acceleration, there is also an increased possibility of the rear tyres losing grip (regardless of whether the vehicle is front wheel, rear wheel or four wheel drive), which is especially dangerous through corners and at speed.
Maintaining your vehicle’s correct tyre pressure is important for three reasons.
- Safety - Tyres which are under inflated can overheat and also affect the cars handling characteristics
- Economy - Over or under inflated tyres wear out un-evenly resulting in shorter tyre life and can affect the vehicles wheel alignment over time.
- Environment - Incorrect tyre pressures can lead to increased fuel consumption which results in more CO2 emissions from the vehicle. Correct tyre pressures help your car maintain its optimum fuel efficiency, keeping the cost of motoring down.