Tyre Law and Penalties

Know the tyre law

The legal minimum tread depth for car tyres in the United Kingdom is 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the breadth of tread and round the entire circumference of the tyre.

The 1.6mm minimum legal limit applies to:

  • Cars and passenger vehicles with up to 8 seated passengers - not including the driver
  • Motor vehicles and light trailers (including caravans) up to 3500 kg gross vehicle weight

Most car tyres have tread wear indicators, usually at least six small ribs across the bottom of the main tread grooves, and when the tread surface becomes level with these ribs the tyre is at the legal limit and must be replaced.

One of the benefits of tyre tread pattern designs is to give good grip in wet conditions. Generally speaking, available grip reduces as the tyre wears or as road surface water depth increases.


Penalties for illegal tyres

The penalties for offences related to the use of illegal tyres on cars are very severe.

In the case of any vehicles, (except goods vehicles and vehicles adapted to carry more than eight passengers), drivers who fail to comply with regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.

Offences can relate to:

  • Tread Depth - a tyre worn below the legal minimum
  • Mixing - an incorrect mixture of radial and cross ply tyres
  • Inflation - a tyre not inflated to make it suitable for the purpose to which the motor vehicle or trailer is being put
  • Cuts - in excess of 25mm or 10% of the section width of the tyre, whichever is the greater, on the outside of the tyre and deep enough to reach the ply or cord
  • Lumps, Bulges or Tears - caused by separation or partial failure of the tyre structure
  • Exposed Ply or Cord
  • Unsuitability - regarding the use to which the motor vehicle or trailer is being put or to the types of tyres fitted to it's other wheels

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