Tyre maintenance plays an integral role in your safety on the road and the performance of your car. Being able to rely on your brakes, steering, and acceleration is vital - and the tyres on your car are key to each of these measures. Without adequate tread depth, for example, road handling and grip are significantly compromised, putting you and other road users at risk.
The legal minimum tread depth for cars in the UK is 1.6mm throughout a continuous band comprising the central three-quarters of breadth of the tread and around its entire outer circumference.
In wet weather tyre tread grooves help to remove water from the contact patch between your tyres and the road surface meaning your car can brake, steer and accelerate properly.
Without adequate tread depth your tyres may not be able to perform properly in wet conditions, reducing your safety on the road. It is therefore advisable to consider replacing your tyres well before they reach the legal minimum.
Being caught with one tyre below this depth could lead to a fine and three points on your licence. With all four below the limit, the penalties are far greater.
As such, we can offer tyre replacement services that will cost substantially less than any potential fines. This even includes wheel alignment support. Incorrect alignment may cause tread to wear out quicker than anticipated, so having professional technicians ensure your wheels are perfectly aligned is key. You can take advantage of our wheel alignment services.
Typical stopping distances in wet conditions at 50mph
Furthermore, drivers whose tyres fail to comply with the minimum tread depth requirements risk a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyreText here ...
A quick and easy way to see if your tyre tread exceed the minimum legal tread depth is to take the 20p test.
Simply place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit.
If the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe and should be checked immediately by a qualified tyre professional.
When taking the test, remember to check at least three locations around each tyre. As the test is so quick and easy, stay safe by checking your tyres at least once a month.
Since tyres are the only contact between your car and the road, tyre pressures are essential to optimum performance of your tyres.
As the driver, it’s your responsibility by law to check and correct the tyre pressures on a regular basis.
Each model and engine combination has its own recommended tyre pressure, which are set by the manufacturer when the car is first built, to maximise safety and performance.
There are two easy ways to find the recommended tyre pressures specific to your car:
1 - Look at the label just inside your car's door frame
2 - Find them in your owners’ manual.
Car Tyre Pressure Checker
Summer might seem to be the least likely time for more tyre-related incidents to be reported on Britain’s roads – yet June, July and August are when they are most likely to occur.
Longer journeys with extra passengers and luggage on board puts additional strain on tyres – and if they have any defects, they are more likely to suffer a catastrophic failure or ‘blowout’.
To minimise the risk takes just a few simple checks. Have a good look at each tyre and see if there are any signs of cracking in the sidewall or in the tread. This cracking is a sign the tyres are hardening, reducing grip and allowing moisture to seep into the tyre and cause its metal components to rust and weaken. It’s essential to have them checked by a professional if you see any signs of this type of ‘crazing’ effect.
A bulge in a tyre indicates its inner structure has been compromised. Typically, this happens when it’s kerbed and the radial wires in the tyre are cut as the wheel rim pinches them against the kerb. Without that essential structural support, only rubber keeps the tyre from bursting, which is extremely dangerous. Again, you should seek a professional’s opinion if you spot a bulge in any of the tyres.
However, the most common fault is underinflation of the tyres – in other words, not having the pressures at the setting recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Research shows 57% of tyres are underinflated on Britain’s roads. Add in extra weight and longer distances and there is an increased risk of failure.
The pressures of a vehicle should be set according to the weight it is carrying. Inside the driver’s door shut, filler cap or handbook, there will be at least two settings recommended for each wheel and tyre size available for that vehicle. For family holiday travel, it’s typically the higher pressure that is needed but refer to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation to check.
Another crucial check is to see whether you have a spare wheel before you start packing. The vast majority of cars come with a ‘space saver’ or an emergency puncture repair kit which includes a cylinder of fluid to be connected with an air compressor. These are designed only for short term and low speed usage – maximum 50mph for 50 miles – to get you to a tyre outlet where the issue can be dealt with properly.
Remember, you should never change your wheel by the side of a motorway or dual carriageway.
One final check is to ensure all tyres have more than 1.6mm of tread to stay legal. However, if they are below 2mm, it really is time to start thinking about replacing them, especially if you are off on a long journey.
Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe Chair, said: “Britain’s roads are never busier than during the summer months, which leads to congestion, hold-ups and traffic jams, which we can’t do anything about. But we can minimise the chances of having an unwanted stop due to tyre defects by carrying out checks before we set off. They only take a few minutes.
“Remember to ACT – air pressure, condition and tread. Don’t let your tyres ruin your summer holiday.”