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How to check your tyre tread

How to check your tyre tread

Saffron Wilson

Saffron Wilson

  • 17 December, 2019
  • 2 min read

With the roads getting more and more slippery each day, it's a good idea to check that your tyres are capable of coping with the wintery weather.

Why do you need tread?

Your tyres are a vital component of your car. They are the only part of your car which touches the road and grips on it. If your tyres aren’t up to standard then they can be a serious safety risk – not just for you and your passengers, but others on the road too.

Besides, if you’re caught with a worn tyre you could get a £2,500 fine and 3 points on your licence, and if you’re caught with all of your tyres worn, you can get a £10,000 fine and even lose your licence entirely.

What is tread, and what’s the law?

The grooves in your tyres are called treads. They’re there so you can measure their depth and then find out how much life your tyres have left.

The law says that your tyres have to have at least 1.6mm of tread over the central ¾ of the tyre, but most tyre manufacturers recommend you have at least 3mm. This is because tyres perform better with this depth and any less can affect your braking distances.

If you have a tread less than 1.6mm, it will fail its MOT (and may get the fine and points we mentioned earlier.)

It’s worth mentioning that your tyres may also be illegal if:

·        Any of the cord or ply is exposed

·        Has any bulges

·        Has any tears

·        Isn’t inflated, or incorrectly inflated

Checking your tyre tread

There are a few ways that you can use to measure the tread in your tyres.

The 20p test

Take a look at a 20p coin – see the little line that runs around the edge of the coin? If you can’t see this line when it is in the grooves of your tyre, the likelihood is that you legally have enough tread.

If you can see the line, you may need to replace your tyre.

A tyre tread gauge

The way tyre tread gauges work can depend on the manufacturer, but they are pretty self-explanatory and will have instructions with them.

These are specific tools that can accurately measure your tyre tread depth – and sometimes have pressure gauges too!

Read more: How often should you check your tyres

Tyre tread indicator

Some tyres are equipped with tyre wear indicators on them so you can see how your tread depth is doing without the need for tools or a 20p piece.

The indicators are little ‘nubs’ in the grooves of the tyre. Once the rest of the tread meets the same height of these nubs, this is a good indicator to get your tyres replaced.

And don’t forget, you can get your tyres checked and replaced at your local CarShop Service Centre.