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How to ensure your tyres are safe

Simple tips to make sure your tyres are roadworthy

Tyres are one of the most important parts of a vehicle when it comes to ensuring you’re safe on the roads.

A good time to assess the overall condition of your tyres is after washing your vehicle. Look out for any damage to the inner and outer walls of the tyres such as any cuts or bulges, as well as any cracking and perishing of the rubber.

Uneven wear of a tyre might also indicate an underlying problem which should be checked by a qualified mechanic.

Simple tyre safety checks

Here are some checks you can make to your tyres to keep you safe on the road and on the right side of the law.

Tyre treads

The law states there must be at least 1.6mm of tread depth across the centre three-quarters of the width of the tread throughout the entire circumference of the tyre. Read more about what The Highway Code says about tyres and the law.

A simple test to carry out is to take a 20p coin and insert it into the tread on your tyre — if you can’t see the outer band on the coin that means your tyres are above the legal limit. It’s worth carrying out this test on each tyre once a month.

 Tyre safety infographic panel detailing the 20p test for tyre treads

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) recommends worn tyres are replaced well before the legal minimum tread limit is reached — ideally as soon as they reach 3mm.

Tyre pressure and valves

The correct tyre pressure should be listed in your vehicle’s handbook. Alternatively, you can visit a site such TyreSafe, a charity dedicated to raising awareness of tyre safety in the UK.

 Tyre safety tyre pressure explainer infographic

Maintaining the right pressure will prolong the life of your tyres and provide safer handling of your vehicle. Tyres which wear in the middle of the tread might indicate that they have been overinflated and tyres which wear on the outer edges could suggest they have been under-inflated.

As with most car checks, it’s best to check your tyre pressure when the tyres are cold and consider the weight in your vehicle (for example, if you’re going on a camping holiday the tyre pressure will need to increase to support the weight of the luggage and equipment).

How to choose the right tyres

When replacing your tyres there is more to consider than which brand to select. A number of numeric markings found on the side walls will provide information about not just the tyre’s dimensions but its speed rating, maximum load, production date, fuel efficiency and noise emissions.

Tyre numerical markings explainer infographic

Consumer champion Which? offers a helpful guide to these markings.