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Tyres and your safety

The tyres on your car are the only part of the vehicle in contact with the road surface. You may consider yourself to be a good, safe driver but when was the last time you checked your tyres? Failure to ensure that your car is fitted with safe tyres may cause you to lose control and crash.

There are a number of weekly checks you should carry out to ensure that your car is safe.

Tread depth

Checking your tyres is one of the most basic yet important tasks you should perform as part of your regular safety checks. Worn tyres are a huge risk on the roads, as a tyre in poor condition will have a detrimental effect on the vehicle’s braking and steering.

The minimum legal tyre tread depth for cars and vans is 1.6mm, although we recommend you change your tyres at 3mm. Tests have shown that, at 50mph, the stopping distance of a vehicle with 1.6mm tyre depth is 39.5 metres – with 3mm the distance had decreased to 31.7 metres. That’s almost the width of a tennis court.

In wet conditions, tyre tread depth is even more important. If you don’t have sufficient tread, then you will have little or no wet grip performance.

It’s easy to check – take a 20p piece and insert it into your tyre tread. If you can see the outer band of the coin, then your tyres may be dangerous – get them checked.

Tyre pressure

The air pressure of tyres will also greatly affect a vehicle’s handling – refer to your vehicle handbook for correct tyre pressures. Ensuring that your tyres are at the correct pressure can also increase your car’s fuel economy and save you money.

Other damage

You should inspect the tyre surface and sidewalls for cracks, worn patches or bulges. If you are concerned that your tyres are damaged, then consult a garage immediately. Many tyre specialists now provide a mobile service, so there is no need to move the vehicle if you find a defect.

Penalties for defective tyres

There is currently a maximum fine of £2,500 and three penalty points for each defective tyre. If you have two bald tyres, then that’s potentially a £5,000 fine and six points on your licence. Disqualification is also possible in some circumstances.

For more useful information, visit www.tyresafe.org

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