Can You Fail an MOT or get Fined for Bald Tyres?

By David Sholicar

If any question has an unequivocal ‘yes’ as the answer it’s whether bald tyres will fail an MOT. In fact, bald tyres are one of the most common reasons for MOT failures.


The chances are that you don’t often pay much attention to the condition of your vehicle’s tyres. Unless you see a warning light indicating low tyre pressure, or actually notice a change in the way your vehicle drives, very few people think to regularly take a walk around their car to inspect one of its most important parts. The tyres.
Yet failing to monitor the condition of your tyres can be dangerous to both yourself and other road users. Remember, your tyres are your only connection with the road. They are vital for grip and control. Bald or balding tyres can significantly reduce the traction you have and so it is essential that the tread depth is within the legal limit.

What you need to know about tread depths

Tyre treads are the grooves in the rubber on tyres, designed to drive water away from the point at which your tyre comes into contact with the road. This creates traction with the road surface, enabling you to keep control of your vehicle while accelerating, braking and steering. Without it, there’s a very real possibility of you not being able to control your vehicle. That’s why the legal minimum limit of tyre treads is set to 1.6mm. Anything below this is dangerous and will definitely lead to an MOT failure.

How to check your tyre tread is safe

Besides being unsafe and a major cause of MOT failures, driving on tyres which are below the legal tread limit can also result in a hefty fine. Thankfully, some simple checks can help to avoid this. The 20p test is a quick and easy check that anybody can do to verify tyre tread depth. Simply insert a 20p coin into the tread and look to see whether or not the outer ‘band’ on the coin is still visible.
It’s advisable to do this at several points on each tyre in case you have uneven wear. If the outer band is visible at any point, this means that your tread has worn too low. It’s illegal and dangerous to continue driving on them and you will need to replace your tyres straight away. In practice, tread depth below 3mm will compromise handling and performance.
To help prolong the life of your tyres, make sure that the tyre pressure is right for your particular tyres and try to avoid potholes and scraping against kerbs. Damage to the sidewall of your tyre can cause dangerous blow-outs and will lead to an immediate MOT fail.
For peace of mind and expert advice, Protyre’s qualified fitters can assess your tyres and offer a full fitting service. Here at Protyre, we are always on hand to help guide you to find the most suitable tyres for your needs. Stockists of a wide variety of brands such as Pirelli, Sumitomo, and Bridgestone, our tyre professionals are happy to carry out these checks for you and, if necessary, offer advice on the best replacement tyres to suit your driving needs and budget.

Just contact our friendly local garage team for more information or use the site to book a free tyre check.

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About the author

Article Author Photo
By David Sholicar
David is the National Retail Operations Manager for Protyre. One of David’s areas of responsibility and expertise is dealing with the DVSA and MOT’s for Protyre. As the Authorised Examiner Designate Manager ( AEDM ) David deals with applications for changes to the many Vehicle Testing Stations ( VTS’s) including managing the growth of the Number of MOT testing stations that Protyre operate, allocating MOT tester roles, and monitoring the MOT Test logs to ensure that Protyre MOT standards are maintained as the best in the industry.
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