Taking care of your tyres is critical to a well maintained car.
Understanding the law on tyre conditions
Looking after your tyres not only improves road safety, it’s also a legal requirement. It’s recommended that tyres are looked at monthly, as well as before any long journeys. There are 2 checks you should be aware of 1.
- Tyres should be correctly inflated to the specified tyre pressures for that vehicle
- The tread must be at least 1.6mm across three-quarters of the tyre surface
Failure to meet minimum requirements for pressure and tread depth could lead to a fine of up to £2,500 and three points on your licence for each illegal tyre.
Checking the condition of your tyres
First, you need to look for any damage – such as cuts, cracks, lumps or tears. Remove any objects stuck in the grooves that could potentially cause a puncture, like stones, nails and screws. If you have a spare tyre in the car it’s important to maintain that one as well.
How to check tyre pressure
Having correct tyre pressure helps prolong its life and improves fuel efficiency – which is particularly important during long journeys. Checking is easy and can either be done during your visit to the petrol station, or at home if you have an accurate pressure gauge.
- Begin by finding the recommended tyre pressure for your vehicle in its manual, or on the vehicle website. Some cars have this information inside the driver door or on the inside of the fuel cap
- Find and unscrew the valve cap on the inside of the tyre and attach the pressure gauge firmly
- When you’ve got your reading, either inflate the tyre if pressure is too low, or let out air if the pressure is too high. Remember to replace the valve cap
- Tyre pressure should be adjusted if the vehicle is carrying additional weight – which can be found with the original pressure information
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How to check tyre tread
Tyre tread keeps your car gripped to the road and is particularly important in wet weather driving as it reduces the risk of skidding or aquaplaning and shortens your braking distance. If your tyre tread looks a bit worn down, there’s a simple way of checking the depth:
- Place a 20p coin inside the main groove of the tyre. Do this in several locations as some parts may be more worn down than others
- Look at where the rim of the coin sits in the groove. If the rim of the coin disappears into the groove, the tyre tread is legal. If you can see the coin rim, the tyre needs to be replaced as it doesn’t meet legal requirements
When should I buy new tyres?
Recent government figures revealed that over the last year, almost 1 in 10 (7.7%) MOT failures were because of tyre defects 2 that could have been avoided. There are several signs you can spot for yourself before forking out for new tyres during an MOT, or being spotted by police. We’ve listed some below:
- Look out for tread wear bars, or small bands of rubber, that show when the tyre depth has reached its legal limit
- Are there any uneven patterns of wear on your tyres? This could indicate other issues, so get this looked at by a mechanic
- Any unusual lumps or bulges could potentially cause the tyre to fail, which may lead to an accident
- Look out for any deep cuts or tears. Punctures larger than 6mm cannot be fixed with a kit
It’s important to be aware that punctures, cuts, burst tyres or punctures caused by braking are not covered by your car insurance policy. However, regular checks and maintaining your tyres will give you greater control of your vehicle when it’s needed most.