At Least A Million Motorists Could Face Up To £10,000 In Fines And A Driving Ban For Failing To Check Tyre Depth


MORE than one million motorists could be risking up to £10,000 in fines for failing to check their tyre tread depth.

Around 1.4million Brits are driving around with at least one tyre that is classified as illegal, according to a recent study.

Alamy More than a million Brits are failing to check their tyre tread depth

Conducted by, the study found that three per cent of UK motorists had at least one tyre with tread that was already below the legal 1.6mm depth limit and needed to be replaced.

Drivers face a £2,500 fine and three penalty points for each tyre that falls below the minimum standard – and would have their insurance invalidated if they got into an accident.

So anyone found with four “dangerous” tyres could be slapped with a whopping £10,000 fine and 12 penalty points, which would likely result in a driving ban.

By conducting simple checks on their tyres regularly, drivers could avoid the harsh penalty.

Simple checks to keep your tyres safe

Tread depth: The legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around the full circumference. Take a 20p coin and insert it into the tread grooves on the tyre. If you can’t see the outer band on the coin, your tyres are above the legal limit. If you can see the band and that section of the coin is still visible, your tyres could be unsafe and require professional inspection.

All tyres also have tyre tread wear indicators. If the tyre is flush with these, it’s below the legal limit. 

A tyre tread depth gauge will quickly measure the depth of an individual groove.

Tyre pressures: Tyres that are under inflated can overheat while over inflated tyres can lead to poor vehicle handling on the road. The correct tyre pressures for your car can be found in the vehicle handbook. Use a pressure gauge to find out what your tyres are inflated to.

External damage: Visually look for cuts, lumps and bumps that could’ve been caused by a kerb, pothole or object in the road. This damage can result in unexpected tyre failure so keep a regular look out.

Simple tyre gauges can be as little as £2.50

While the 20p test is usually considered the easiest way to check your tyre depth, it can actually lead to you changing them too soon, costing you hundreds of pounds.

Drivers are better off using a tyre depth gauge which can cost as little as £2.50, and will give you an instant reading to tell if your tyres are legal.

Another option is to find the tyre indicators built into the grooves. If these are flush with your tread you know you’re close to 1.6mm.’s study also highlighted an alarming lack of knowledge from UK drivers on what is classed as safe.

Three in five drivers said they didn’t know what the legal tread depth was, while 55 per cent had no idea how to check their own tyres.

It also found that one in five drivers had at least one tyre which was below the manufacturer’s recommended depth of 3mm.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at, says: “It’s worrying to find so many people are driving with baldies. Our research shows there is a serious lack of awareness among some motorists.

“Tyre tread ignorance could land offenders with fines of up to £2,500 per tyre, invalidate their insurance or lead to an accident.

“By conducting a few simple checks each month, drivers can keep themselves and other motorists safe.

“Driving has become expensive enough as it is, and avoiding unwanted fines should be incentive enough to comply with road safety regulations.”

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