How to check tyre tread depth
Thursday 24th January 2019
Ensuring that your tyres abide to the legal tread requirement is an important job, yet one that can fall by the wayside when we're not sure of the process. From the legal minimum depth of tread to how to check tyre tread, learn exactly why checking your tyre tread depth is so important to your on-road safety today.
What is the legal tyre tread depth?
Across the UK and Europe, the legal minimum depth of tread for car tyres is 1.6mm. This accounts for the measurement being across the central three-quarters of the tyre, and round the entire circumference of the tyre. However, it's thought that a tyre tread depth of 3mm is enough to warrant a replacement tyre - as the lower the measurement, the higher the stopping distance, which leads to a more dangerous drive.
And if your tyres don't meet the legal requirement? You can end up paying fines of up to £2,500 (per tyre) and a hefty three points on your license. Not to mention, if all four tyres fall below the legal tyre limit, you're at risk of losing your license along with a fine of £10,000. Trust us - it's just not worth it.
How to check tyre tread depth
So, you're convinced that checking tyre tread depth is important. But how is it done?
1. Tyre tread wear indicators
A quick check of the tread wear indicators can inform you of the levels of your tread depth, and whether it's time to invest in some new tyres. These indicators are found in the grooves of the tread pattern on each individual tyre. Remember, if the tyre is below the legal tyre limit, it will need replacing. These are available on most tyres and is one of the simpler ways of checking your tyre tread depth.
2. Tyre tread depth gauge
Yet, for a more accurate reading, you might want to consider using a tread depth gauge. This purpose made tool is capable of measuring the depth of each individual tyre groove - not to mention, it's small enough to keep tucked away in the glove compartment for easy reach for when you come to need it. These will usually be around £10 or less.
3. 20p coin test
Another test you can do manually is known as the 20p test. Simply, take a 20p coin and insert it into an individual tyre's tread groove - if you can't see the outer rim of the 20p coin, then your tyre is safe and above the legal minimum limit.
However, if that side of the coin is still visible, this indicates that your tyre could be unsafe. The best thing to do is to take it in to a professional mechanic - they can check the tyre tread depths for you on all four tyres, and ensure you are abiding the to the legal requirements and will recommend if any replacements need to be made.
How often should I check my tyre tread depth?
The best time to conduct this test is before long journeys, to ensure you have the best tyres for the job to transport you from A to B. However, bad weather can affect the roads which then, in turn, affect the resistance of our tyres and wears them down after time. Checking tyre tread is advised for every two weeks, or at least once a month.