Tyre law is an important aspect of road safety that every driver should be aware of. Tyres are the only part of your vehicle that makes contact with the road surface, and they affect your braking, steering, handling, and fuel efficiency. Driving with tyres that do not meet the legal standards can put you and other road users at risk of accidents and injuries.
In this blog post, we will explain the main areas of tyre law in the UK, and what you need to do to comply with them. We will also cover the penalties for driving with illegal tyres, and how to check your tyres regularly to avoid them.
Tyre tread depth
The tread depth of your tyres is the distance between the surface of the tyre and the bottom of the grooves. The tread depth helps your tyres grip the road and disperse water in wet conditions. The more tread depth you have, the better your tyres can perform.
The legal minimum tread depth for car tyres in the UK is 1.6 millimetres across the central three-quarters of the width of the tyre and around the entire circumference. This applies to all four tyres on your vehicle. However, for safety reasons, it is recommended that you replace your tyres before they reach this limit, as their performance will deteriorate significantly below 3 millimetres.
How To Check Your Tread
To check your tread depth, you can use a 20p coin as a simple guide. Insert the coin into the main grooves of your tyre at several points. If you can see the outer band of the coin, your tread depth is below 3 millimetres and you should consider replacing your tyres soon. If you can see any part of the coin’s rim, your tread depth is below 1.6 millimetres and you are driving illegally.
You can also look for the tread wear indicators on your tyres. These are small bars of rubber that are moulded into the base of the main grooves. When these bars become level with the surface of the tyre, your tread depth has reached 1.6 millimetres and you need to replace your tyres immediately.
The tyre pressure is the amount of air inside your tyres. The tyre pressure affects how your tyres make contact with the road, and how they respond to your steering and braking inputs. The correct tyre pressure for your vehicle depends on factors such as its weight, load, speed, and driving conditions.
Tyre Pressure Law?
The legal minimum tyre pressure for car tyres in the UK is not specified by law, but it is advised that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your vehicle. You can find these in your vehicle handbook, on a sticker inside your door frame or fuel cap, or on a reputable online source.
Driving with under-inflated or over-inflated tyres can compromise your safety and damage your tyres. Under-inflated tyres can cause excessive wear, overheating, reduced fuel economy, poor handling, and increased braking distance. Over-inflated tyres can cause reduced grip, uneven wear, increased susceptibility to punctures and blowouts, and harsh ride quality.
To check your tyre pressure, you need a reliable tyre pressure gauge or an air pump at a petrol station or garage. You should check your tyre pressure at least once a month and before any long journeys when your tyres are cold (not driven for at least two hours). You should also check your tyre pressure if you notice any changes in your vehicle’s performance or handling.
Adjusting Your Pressure
To adjust your tyre pressure, you need to remove the valve cap from each tyre and attach the gauge or pump to it. If your tyre pressure is too low, you need to add air until it reaches the recommended level. If your tyre pressure is too high, you need to release some air until it reaches the recommended level. You should then replace the valve cap and repeat this process for each tyre.
The condition of your tyres refers to their overall state and appearance. The condition of your tyres affects their performance and safety on the road. You should inspect your tyres regularly for any signs of damage or deterioration that could compromise their integrity.
The legal minimum condition for car tyres in the UK is that they must be free from any cuts, bulges, lumps, tears or exposed cords that are more than 25 millimetres long or 10% of their width (whichever is greater). They must also be free from any foreign objects embedded in them (such as nails or screws) that could cause a puncture or leak.
To check your tyre condition, you should visually inspect each