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Legal Tyres &the Law

UK Tyre Law & Requirements

It’s best to get an understanding of basic UK tyre law to make sure you’re driving legally. Failing to maintain your tyres to a legal standard can result in a Fixed Penalty Notice (a Conditional Offer Notice in Scotland) or a court summons. In the eyes of the law both the driver and the vehicle owner, if different, are liable and both may be summonsed in the event of illegal tyres. The maximum fine a court may impose is £2,500 and three penalty points per tyre
If you drive on damaged or worn tyres, you are at risk of invalidating your car insurance policy, incurring a hefty fine and/or penalty points and endangering those around you.
Do you know the laws relating to tyres? Do you know what responsibilities you as a driver have to ensure the tyres on your car are safe? If in doubt, read the these pointers to UK tyre law.

  • Tyres below the legal minimum tread depth.
  • Tyres under inflated.
  • Tears over 25mm or bulges in the tyres structure.
  • An incorrect mixture of cross ply/radial tyres.
  • Ply or cord which is exposed.

For safety reasons, it is recommended that you replace your tyres before the legal limit is reached. Many vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing at 3 millimeters. It’s always better to be safe than sorry and avoid 3 points per offence and a hefty fine!

How to test your tread depth at home

Treadwear indicators
Perhaps the easiest way to check if you are close to the legal limit is looking for your tyres’ tread wear indicators. These small bars, usually around 5mm wide, span the base of the tyre's main grooves. These are set to a low height, so once the surface of the tread begins to wear to a similar level as the indicators you can tell that it is time to have your tyres checked, and probably replaced.

20p Test
You can also check your tread depth with the 20p test. Putting a 20p coin into the grooves of a tyre is a simple way to test whether the tread depth is above the legal limit. The outer rim of a 20p coin is just under 3mm wide, so as long as the rim is hidden when inserted then the tyre is above the legal tread limit.
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