UK law requires car tyres to have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread across the central three-quarters of the tyre around its entire circumference. If this sounds complicated, then all you need to do is take the 20p test.
How to take the 20p test
Simply insert a 20p coin into your tyre’s main tread grooves to see if the outer rim of the coin is covered by the tread. Repeat this across the width of the tyre and at several points around its circumference. If you can see the rim of the coin when it is inserted at any point, your tyre may be illegal and should be checked by our tyre experts at Bromley Tyres.
The dangers of low tread depth
Adequate tread depth is essential for your safety on the roads. In wet weather, the tread pattern helps remove water from the tyre’s contact patch with the road surface. As the tyre’s tread wears down, it loses the ability to remove all of the water from the road, resulting in longer stopping distances, loss of grip and an increased risk of aquaplaning. For maximum safety, it is advisable to replace your tyres before they reach the minimum legal tread depth.
Regular Tyre Inspections
Your tyres should be examined regularly for signs of damage and abnormal wear. As well as taking the 20p test, give your tyres a thorough visual inspection all over. Remove any stones or other objects which may be embedded within the tread. If you see any cuts or bulges, the tyre should be looked at immediately by a specialist as it may be unsafe and suffering from serious internal damage. If your tyres have uneven wear, they should be inspected by a qualified professional as it may indicate other problems with your car. If your tyre tread is badly worn in some parts but not others, it could mean that your tyre pressure is too high or too low, this can also be a factor of worn suspension components as well.
Tyre pressures should be checked at least once a month or before a long journey. Check the pressure when your tyres are cold (i.e. you have driven less than two miles). Don’t forget to replace the valve cap and remember to check the spare as well.
Excessive wear around the inside or outside edges of your front tyres could mean your front suspension has been knocked out of line through hitting a deep pothole or banging a kerb. Ask your tyre dealer to check your car’s tracking. If it is out of alignment getting it fixed will reduce the abnormal tyre wear and make your car or van feel much better to drive.