What is the tread depth of new tyres?
Most motorists rarely stop to consider the condition of their vehicle’s tyres until they experience a problem, such as a flat tyre or blowout. The majority of road users tend to rely on the annual MOT check to uncover problems with tread depth, and then replace tyres reluctantly, begrudging the expenditure.
However, considering that the tyre is the vehicle’s sole point of contact with the road surface, it should be at the forefront of every road user’s mind that the condition of the tyre, including the depth of tread, is of crucial importance to the safety of the driver, any passengers and other road users.
All vehicle owners and drivers should make a point of regularly inspecting all tyres on their vehicles, ensuring that they have adequate tread, are correctly inflated and fit for purpose.
Legal requirements for tread depthNew tyres are manufactured with around 8mm of tread depth, but this wears away over time, which compromises the car’s road handling, ability to cope in wet conditions, road grip and safety. Legally, the minimum allowable depth of tread is 1.6mm - any less than this and you run the risk of a hefty fine of up to £2,500. Each bald tyre will also cost you three points on your licence, so a failure to ensure that your tyres are road legal could end up costing you dearly.
Although 1.6mm of tread is the legal limit, most motoring organisations recommend that you change your tyres before they reach this point, to avoid compromising your safety. Ideally, tyres should be replaced once they reach a tread depth of 2mm. Research studies have shown that a tread depth of 3mm offers drivers around a 25% improvement in performance compared with a tread depth of the legal minimum of 1.6mm. This means that a tyre with 3mm of tread will stop 8 metres before a tyre with the minimum legal tread in wet driving conditions.
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Why you need to check your tyresYou may not give your vehicles tyres much thought but you should make a point of checking them at least once a month, if not once a week. A good depth of tread provides extra security, particularly in wet conditions, preventing or reducing the risk of aquaplaning. See if your tyres are in the right condition by reading our article about it here.
Even if your tyres have an appropriate amount of tread, it’s still important to ensure that they are correctly inflated to the appropriate pressure. An underinflated tyre has more contact with the road’s surface, increasing wear, creating uneven wear and leading to an increase in fuel consumption. This will damage the tyre over time, making it more likely that the car will become unstable, and even leading to the possibility of a blowout at high speed.
It only takes a few moments to check the tread of your tyres and to make sure that they are inflated in accordance with the instructions in your vehicle’s handbook, so make a point of checking them weekly and limit your chance of incurring financial penalties, or worse, being involved in an accident.