28 Jan 2023 - 17:40:40
1112 Posts
Tyre Law

The legal tread limit for tyres in the UK is 1.6mm across the centre 3/4 of the width of the tyre, all the way round the circumference of the tyre. They should have no bulges, cuts cracks or other signs of damage that could affect their integrity or safety. Most professionals would recommend changing your tyres well before the legal tread limit is reached, as the less tread you have, the less effective they will be at maintaining grip on the road. In our garage we recommend changing tyres at 3mm.

Tyres worn past the legal tread limit can attract up to a 2,500 fine and 3 penalty points on your licence for each tyre if you are stopped by the police.

Part Worn Tyres

Part worn tyres are exactly what they say on the tin! They have been previously fitted and used on another vehicle. They are often sold with about 50% (or even less) tread left on them (the legal limit is 2mm). One could argue that a part worn is better than driving on a tyre close to or on the legal limit of 1.6mm, however the tread is not the only consideration when considering it's effectiveness or safety.

Often part worns are imported from Europe where some countries have higher legal tread limits than the UK or they are sold on online auction sites directly from the country of origin. The trouble is, you have no idea of the history, age or condition of these tyres when you purchase them. It is also impossible to check them for possible internal defects which may compromise their effectiveness and thus their safety. Tyres that have been in accidents or run up kerbs or any other form of impact, may have structural damage that is not visible.

Recent research by TyreSafe, a UK tyre safety body demonstrated that over 1,200 injuries could be attributed to tyre related accidents in 2010 and that 34% of part worns had 'potentially dangerous forms of damage or non-compliance' with part worn tyre law. A part worn with only 2mm tread could take over 12m longer to stop when travelling at 50mph.

Buying from Online Auction Sites

A regular customer of ours recently came in to ask us to fit some tyres he was purchasing from an online auction site. We advised the customer that we preferred not to fit part worns as we could not guarantee their roadworthiness, however we agreed to do so as he was a regular. He was looking for a specific brand and although we priced them up for him new, his preference was still to go ahead with the part worn tyres on the basis of cost, despite our advice. When he returned with his tyres for fitting, we inspected them to find that they tyres hard (possibly old) and although they had plenty of tread left on them, three of them had nails stuck in them and one had evidence of interior damage. We contacted the customer to advise him that we could not fit the tyres and provided a report to support his claim to return them as not fit for purpose.

Tyre Maintenance and Safety

Not only is it important to fit new tyres to your vehicle, preferably before they reach the legal limit of 1.6mm, it is vital to ensure that you maintain them to ensure that they are effective and last as long as possible. Visually inspect them regularly and remove any stones or other debris from the treads. Look out for signs of uneven wear and take them to a reputable garage to investigate the cause.

Ensure that you inflate your tyres to the manufacturers specifications to preserve tyre life, safety and maintain good handling on the vehicle. Always check your tyre pressures when they tyres cold. Over inflation expands the overall tyre diameter and thus reduces the amount of tread in contact with the road surface, it will also decrease the sidewall flexibility. Underinflation will increase the overall tyre diameter, increase the flexion in the sidewall and give poor handling on the vehicle. Over and underinflation both reduce the longevity and safety of your tyres.

And finally...

At JGS Autos Garage Redditch, we would always recommend you fit the best tyre you can afford to your vehicle. Find a local independent garage who will almost certainly check them for (usually for free) and advise you on a range of tyres to suit your budget and driving conditions. Wherever possible, avoid fitting part worn tyres, perform some routine visual checks and ensure your tyres are inflated correctly to get the best handling, effectiveness and life possible.

Nicola Carroll writes articles for JGS Autos Garage Redditch one of the leading garages for Exhaust welding in Redditch. If you are looking for a garage in Redditch, JGS Autos will be able to help you with all your car maintenance and repair needs.

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