When to replace your tyres?

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A brand new tyre has an approximate tread depth of 8mm. Over time, a tread depth will reduce from wear. This reduction increases the chance of a road accident. A tyre with a low tread depth is less able to remove water from the surface of the road. This raises the chance of aquaplaning as the tyre has more difficulty breaking effectively. This increases the distance needed to stop, which makes driving on the roads more dangerous.


Currently, the road tread depth limit stands at 1.6mm however this is considered dangerously low. Any tyre that has a tread depth less than 1.6mm is illegal in the UK. A defective tyre can land a maximum fine of £2500 and three penalty points. (£5000 fine if the vehicle is carrying goods or is constructed to carry more than 8 people). As a driver, there is a duty to maintain a vehicle, which includes tyres. A fit for purpose tyre must be compatible with the other wheels and not have any cord or ply exposed. For a tyre to be legal it must not have a tear/cut excessing 25mm and any lumps caused by structure failure. The purpose of this law is to benefit the safety of pedestrians and road users.


A tyre with a tread depth of 4mm is a cause for concern as the tyre is 62% worn. At 3mm it is recommended that the tyre should be replaced. Replacing a tyre around the 3mm mark is a great idea as it reduces the risk of an accident and the risk of receiving a penalty charge. The braking distance begins to dramatically increase after a tyre tread depth starts falling below 3mm. The deeper the tread depth, the better the grip on the road, especially in wet conditions. A tyre tread depth directly affects a cars ability to brake, steer and accelerate correctly.


It is advisory to check a tyre monthly when the tyre has a tread depth at around 4mm. A quick easy way to test if a car meets the legal road limit is by taking the 20p test. The 20p test is a simple test that uses a 20p coin and a tyre. The 20p coin is inserted into the main grooves of the tyre. If the outer band of the inserted 20p is visible then the tyre tread depth is illegal. If the outer band is not visible, then the tyre tread depth is above 1.6mm. It is advised to take this test in several locations around each of the tyres. This quick and easy test is a simple way to stay safe on the roads.


If a tyres tread depth falls below 3mm, the tyre must be replaced urgently. It is reckless to wait for a tyre to reach 1.6mm as it increases the risk of danger for everybody on the road. It is common for road users to carry a spare tyre at all times. It is important that this spare tyre is well maintained and road legal. There are many options available for all vehicle variations. Tyre types range from high performing to environmentally friendly. Please note that not every tyre will be compatible with all vehicles so it is important to seek advice when replacing a tyre.


For tyres, fittings and expert advice, please contact your local Mr. Clutch Auto Centre today on 0800 676 767.

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