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Are your car tyres safe?

calendar Published on: Thursday, 19th April 2018 | female icon Author: Rebecca Taylor

When it comes to your car tyres, it can be easy to assume that theyíre in good working order. However, you might not necessarily be aware of a problem unless you go out of your way to look for it. In this blog, we explore a few ways to check if your car tyres are safe and what to do if something doesnít seem quite right.

Check your tyre tread depth

Making sure each tyre on your car has enough tread depth is essential for your road safety. There are lots of reasons why tread depth is so important. For example, a sufficient amount of tread depth is vital so that your car can grip the road properly. This is especially important in wet conditions and is one of the most vital checks you can carry out. If you donít have enough tread depth, you could significantly increase your chances of having an accident while youíre out and about.

The law

In the UK, the law states that each tyre on a car must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. If youíre stopped by the police and itís found that one or more of your tyres has a tread depth below this legal limit, you could expect to be fined £2,500 and receive three penalty points per tyre. So, aside from being crucial for your safety when youíre behind the wheel, making sure each of your tyres has sufficient tread depth could save you a lot of hassle with the law.

How to check your tyre tread depth

To check your tyre tread depth, you can use a special tool called a tread depth gauge. This device is designed to give you a quick, accurate measurement of an individual tyre and will help you determine if your tyre is above the legal minimum or not.

Alternatively, you could use the Ď20p testí. Slot a 20p into the groove of the tyre and establish if you can still see the outer strip of the coin or not. If you canít see it, your tyre tread depth is over the legal limit. However, if you can see the outer strip, itís likely the tyre is unsafe and needs replacing.

Measure your tyre pressure

The pressure of each of your tyres plays an important part in your road safety. Without the right amount of pressure in your tyres, you could risk not being in complete control of your vehicle. In fact, under or over inflated tyres can seriously impact the handling and grip of your car. This can be especially dangerous when youíre driving at high speeds, such as on a motorway, so itís vital that you check your tyre pressure regularly.

How to measure your tyre pressure

First of all, youíll need to find out the correct pressure for your tyres. This should be stated in your carís manual and will be referred to as pounds per inch (PSI).

Once you know the PSI for your vehicle, you will be able to measure each tyre. You can do this with a digital pressure gauge. Using this device is quick and easy, and it will enable you to  work out if you need to inflate or deflate your tyres. For an accurate reading, make sure you perform this check when your tyres are cold.

Look out for signs of wear and tear

Thereís no denying that your tyres go through a lot on a daily basis, so itís perfectly normal for them to suffer some general wear and tear. However, unless you go out of your way to look for it, you might not be aware of any damage, meaning that you could be driving around with unsafe tyres. This means itís important that you get into the habit of inspecting your tyres regularly. When youíre checking them over, take your time to look at the surface, keeping an eye out for cuts, bulges and signs of cracking in the sidewall. You should also use your hand to feel the tyre for anything that might have become embedded into the rubber.

If you spot or feel something that youíre not sure about, itís a good idea to get them checked out by a professional and replaced if necessary.

Understanding wheel alignment and balancing

You may have heard of wheel alignment and wheel balancing before but not needed to give them much thought. However, it pays to have some understanding of them to keep your tyres in tip-top condition.

Wheel alignment

Wheel alignment refers to adjusting the position of the wheels to ensure that they are at a 90į angle to the road surface and parallel with each other. Making sure your wheels are correctly aligned will maximise the life of your tyres, as well as help your vehicle to keep a straight line on the roads.

There are a few tell tale signs that can help you detect if your tyres arenít properly aligned. For example, if they have worn quickly and unevenly or if your steering wheel pulls to one side when youíre driving, this could indicate that your wheel alignment is out.

Wheel balancing

Wheel balancing enables your car tyres and wheels to rotate without vibrating. The balance of your wheels is determined by inspecting for any heavy spots on both the wheel and tyre. These flaws are counteracted by installing a balancing weight on the opposite side of the wheel from where the heavy spot is.

If your wheel is out of balance, you may notice a scalloped or cupped shape wear pattern on the tyres. You may also notice vibrations in your steering wheel, your seat or from underneath the vehicle, especially when youíre travelling at high speeds.

Should you suspect that your wheel alignment or balance isnít right, itís important to get your car checked out as soon as possible by a professional.


As a motorist, itís crucial that youíre aware of the importance of having roadworthy tyres and what you can do to ensure the safety of yourself and other drivers.

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