Legal Tyre Tread & UK Laws

UK law specifies your vehicle must be fitted with the correct type and size of tyre for the vehicle you are driving and the purpose for which it is being used. This means fitting the right tyres, ensuring that they have sufficient tread, are appropriately inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure and free from damage.

The legal minimum for the depth of tread on your tyres is 1.6 millimetres across the central ¾ of their width and around their complete circumference. For safety reasons, it is recommended that you replace your tyres before the legal limit is reached. Many vehicle and tyre manufacturers recommend replacing at 3 millimetres – the point after which tyre performance degrades significantly.

With 1.6 millimetres tread depth, it takes an extra two car lengths (8 metres) to stop at 50 mph in the wet than if your tread was 3 millimetres.

What happens if my tyres are below the legal tread depth?

Firstly, you will receive a fine that could be surmount to £10,000 so why risk it? The maximum fine that the police or a court can impose is £2,500 and three penalty points per illegal tyre (£5,000 in the case of a goods vehicle or a vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than eight passengers) and disqualification from driving is also possible.


Don't chance it, get a Free Tyre Check with Protyre

At Protyre, we offer Free Tyre Checks at any of our garages across the UK. Tyre wear can become an issue when it is not regularly inspected so don't risk the safety of you, your passengers and others on the roads, book your vehicle in to get a professional opinion.

Free Tyre Check

Checking your tyre tread depth

Tyre tread depth affects the acceleration, cornering and braking of your vehicle, so worn tyres can create handling problems.

A quick and easy way to see whether your tyres are legally compliant is to place a 20p coin into the tread grooves. If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible, then your tyres may be unsafe and illegal. If the outer band is covered by the grooves when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit.

However, remember to check at least three locations around each tyre when using this quick test method. You should also be aware that there are many different reasons for tyre wear and that it may not occur evenly. This is because tyre wear is not only caused through age and use. Aggressive acceleration, emergency braking, under or over-inflation and misaligned wheels are among the additional causes.

Maintaining your tyres

To prolong the life of a tyre and stay safe on the roads follow these top tips:

  • Check your tyre pressures every month (including the spare)
  • Improper wheel alignment affects the wear of a tyre. Check your alignment every 6,000 miles
  • Balance the tyres when vibration occurs
  • When impacts or punctures occur have a check carried out on the inside of the tyre
  • Don’t park over oil or solvent spills as they will cause tyre damage
  • Comply with the speed rating and load index within your manufacture handbook
  • Remember driving speeds and driving behaviour directly affect tyre life
  • Have the general tyre condition checked regularly with a free vehicle safety check at your local centre
  • Rotate the tyres from the front and rear wheels for more even wear
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Tom Boote

Tom has over 5 years’ digital marketing experience within the automotive industry in both B2B and B2C ...

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