UK Tyre Law and Penalties
Know the legal requirements for tyres
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.
Tyre tread is vital for tyre safety. When your tread is below the legal minimum, it becomes harder for your tyres to grip to the road leading to an increased braking distance. With a longer braking distance, you put yourself and other road users at risk, therefore it is imperative that you check your tyres regularly.
An easy way to check your tyre tread depth is using a 20p coin. Simply place the coin in your tyre tread and if the tyre comes over the border, then the tread is fine, if not you need to replace your tyres – browse our tyre manufacturers here.
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 used for – make sure your tyre pressure is always within the recommended boundaries
- 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