The legal minimum depth of tread for car tyres is 1.6 mm across the central ¾ of the tread around the complete circumference of the tyre. Anything below 1.6mm reduces grip on the road which could be dangerous for both you and your passengers. So how do you monitor tyre tread and what can you do to maintain tyre tread depth?

The importance of tyre tread

Tyre tread is designed to ensure that tyres have a strong grip to the road. A good grip increases road holding, driver control and resistance to aquaplaning improving safety for both driver and passengers. Deep tread is particularly important when driving in wet conditions as worn away tread can drastically affect grip and handling. For example, a tyre with the bare legal minimum of 1.6mm of tread will take 36.8% longer to stop than one with 3mm of tread.

It’s not just the safety of your tyres that tread depth affects either - many insurance policies become void if your tyres are found to be illegal as they could be the cause of an accident. If you are caught driving on tyres with less than 1.6mm tread you will face three points on your licence and a fine of £2,500 for each tyre on your vehicle which is below the legal tread depth.

How to check tyre tread depth

The easiest way to measure the tread depth on your tyres is via ‘the 20p test’. This consists of placing a 20p coin into the tread grooves in at least three places around the tyre. If you can see any part of the outer band of the coin, then your tyres are not only unsafe but illegal – you should replace these as soon as possible.

Here at Setyres, we recommend checking the tread of your tyres at least every four weeks and before commencing long journeys. We also suggest checking your tyres are inflated to the correct tyre pressures regularly.

How to look after your tyres

Although tyre wear is inevitable, there are steps you can take to improve your tyre’s longevity:

  • Tyre pressure – over or under inflated tyres are prone to excessive wear, make sure you check your tyre pressure regularly to avoid this.
  • Driving style – hitting curbs, running over potholes and braking suddenly are all factors that can cause further wear. Pay attention to your driving habits to limit wear.
  • Wheel alignment – misaligned wheels are very likely to wear faster than their correctly aligned counterparts. At Setyres, we offer a free wheel alignment check - book yours online today.

Find out more about excessive tyre wear here.

Take a look at this helpful video from TyreSafe for more guidance on tread depth.

Is your tyre tread below the legal minimum of 1.6mm? Order your new tyre online from Setyres and visit your local branch where one of expert technicians will fit it for you!

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