Every month we see hundreds of cars come through our busy Redditch garage. Amongst all of these cars of differing shapes, sizes and brands , there is one common essential area of car maintenance and safety that many of our customer choose to neglect.


The problem with tyres is, that they're just not very interesting to most people. Most of us grudgingly buy tyres only when absolutely necessary. Lets face it, they are nowhere near as exciting as a new PS4 Game or some fancy branded trainers. The trouble is, we are compromising not only our own safety on the roads but that of others by our wilful neglect of the humble tyre. Many of us just don't attribute any value or importance on the vital role in safety that tyres play. We are more often asked - 'are they legal'? than 'are they safe'?  However, they are not the same thing. A tyre with a legal tyre tread depth may not be roadworthy for a number of different reasons. Not only that, but the legal tread limit in the UK of 1.6mm is 1.4mm less than the industry recommended depth for replacement. 

The Law and Tyres

Tyres fitted to vehicles on the road must be fit for purpose, free of defects, be correctly inflated to the vehicle and manufacturers recommended pressure and comply with the legal minimum tread depth. This means that all tyres fitted to your vehicle must:

  • not have bulges, lumps or tears caused by separation or partial separation of the structure of the tyre
  • be compatible with the other tyres on the vehicle
  • not have a cut in excess of 25mm or 10% of the width of the tyre whichever is greater and which is deep enough to reach the cords or ply
  • not have cord or ply exposed
  • have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm in a continuous band across the centre 3/4 of tread and around the entire circumference

Any of these issues found during an MOT test will result in a fail. Approximately 10% of all MOT fails are due to these reasons, however some routine checking and maintenance could prevent this and keep our vehicles safer on the roads. In addition if you are stopped with illegal or defective tyres, you can face a fine of up to £2,500 and 3 points on your license per tyre!

Spare Tyre

your spare tyre does not need to meet the legal requirements for tyres whilst it is stowed in your boot. It's not even tested in the MOT. However, if it is fitted to the vehicle, even if only to drive to a tyre garage for a puncture repair, it must meet the same requirements. You also can't fit your 'skinny' space saver tyre with loads of tread on it to your vehicle and present it for MOT and expect a pass as it will not be compatible with the other tyres on the vehicle. 

Tyres and Road Safety

  • Around 198 people are killed or seriously injured in accidents caused by tyre related problems each year
  • Over half of all accidents involving a vehicle defect in 2014 were due to an illegal, defective or under inflated tyre.
  • 11% of speed related accidents in 2014 were attributed to illegal, defective or under inflated tyres*

Despite the risks posed to drivers, passengers and other road users by defective tyres, many people still choose the ignore their tyres and only deal with issues that arise as a result of an MOT failure. 

Tyre Tread Depth

In the UK, we have a legal limit for tread depth of 1.6mm across 3/4 of the middle section of the tyre, around the entire circumference. However, despite that, your tyre supplier will recommend replacing your tyres between 4mm and 3mm. 

You can see that at 3mm, your tyre is 78% worn, this means that the grip will be less on the road and your stopping distances will increase. You will also notice that the amount of wear between each mm increases over 3mm, as the tyre will wear out more quickly under 3mm.  Evidence has shown that stopping distances are increased at lower tread depths by up to as much as 13.6 metres, or to put it another way, just slightly longer than a single decker bus.

Why not ACT now?

ACT is a simple acronym to help you remember to conduct some basic safety checks and maintenance on your tyres. Complete these checks monthly for peace of mind and maintaining your safety on the road.

  • A - Air Pressure. If you're not sure what pressure to put in try using this link http://www.tyresafe.org/check-your-pressures/
  • C - Condition. Check the tyre for lumps or bulges in the side wall, or wear on either edge of the tyre. Check also for cracks in the sidewalls as these can also affect the safety and integrity of the tyre
  • T - Check your tyre tread - It's really simple, all you need is a 20p coin (see below)

These simple checks will enable you to identify problems before they become dangerous. Always seek the advice of a reputable tyre dealer if you are unsure of how to check