The importance of checking your tyres

Female hand holding tyre-gauge against tyre to measure its pressure.

Published 9 April 2021
Last updated 12 April 2021

Why is checking your tyres important? We highlight the dangers of damaged tyres and explain how to perform weekly fault checks.

In keeping with the spirit of our recent posts, we thought we’d go back and take another look at the importance of checking your tyres.

The bald truth

Think about this: in 2015, almost a third of UK accidents in which vehicle defects played a part were due to under-inflated, defective or illegal tyres. That’s a hell of a lot of preventable misery. Even if you're not involved in a road traffic incident, you might still be stopped by the police. If they find that your tyres are below the minimum legal tread depth, they could fine you up to £2,500 and hand out 3 penalty points per tyre. Nobody wants that, do they?

Well, the beautiful thing is that by following a few simple rules, you can avoid this aggravation.

Tyred and tested

Here’s what to do.

  • Make regular weekly checks. Look for signs of bulging, cuts and tears to the tyre wall. If you spot anything unusual, then take your vehicle to your local garage and ask them to check it.
  • All car tyres are legally required to have a minimum tread depth of 1.6 mm. The easiest way to check your tyre tread depth is to use a tread depth gauge. This handy gadget can be kept in your glovebox, where it’ll be easy to find. Make sure you check the tread depth in 3 different places on each tyre, as tyres often do not wear evenly. You can also check the tread-wear indicators found between the grooves of the tread: although these are not super accurate, they’ll give you an idea of how your tyres are wearing. Alternatively, get your tyres checked professionally.
  • Underinflated tyres can lead to overheating, poor handling and even – in extreme cases – a blowout. Make a note to regularly check that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure. If you do not know the magic number, your vehicle handbook will give you a list of the correct tyre pressures at laden and unladen weights.

Well, hopefully you now feel full of enthusiasm and completely inspired to go out and check your car right now.* We’d hate to think that we’d ‘tyred’ you out … (sorry!)

Wheel meet again …

We’ll be back with more top tips soon but, in the meantime, if you want to learn more about this kind of stuff (surely you do?), then you’re in luck. DVSA’s Basic MOT Checks eBook is a great source of information, as is the basic car maintenance section of this very website. If you want to go a stage further and get up to speed with the theory and practice of driving, then zoom over to the Safe Driving for Life shop and pick up a copy of The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills.

* We’ll make an exception for anybody who is asleep or sitting in a dentist’s chair.

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