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  Tyre Law

What your tyres do

Your tyres, each with a contact patch on the road of about the size of a large footprint, have to provide ALL of the grip for:

  • Steering
  • Braking
  • Acceleration

They also improve comfort whilst carrying the weight of the vehicle. If you look after them they will work more reliably and last longer. Neglecting them could be expensive in the long run and could even cost you your life.

Tread depth

The legal minimum tread depth for car and similar tyres in the United Kingdom and throughout the European Community is 1.6mm throughout a continuous band comprising of the central three quarters of the breadth of tread and round the entire outer circumference of the tyre.

Most car tyres have tread wear indicators, usually at least six small ribs across the bottom of the main tread grooves, and when the tread surface becomes level with these ribs the tyre is at the legal limit and must be replaced.

Simple and cheap gauges are widely available to give an acceptable guide to tread depth. Nicks Tyres will be more than happy to check that your tyres meet the legal requirements at any time, free of charge and with no obligation.

One of the features of tyre tread pattern design is to give good grip in wet conditions. Generally speaking available grip reduces as the tyre wears or as the road surface water depth increases and you should reduce speed in such conditions.

The 1.6mm Minimum Limit Applies to:

  • Cars and Passenger Vehicles with up to 8 seated passengers - not including the driver
  • Motor Vehicles and Light Trailers (including caravans) up to 3500 kg gross vehicle weight


Mixing of tyres

Except in the case of temporary use spare tyres, it is illegal in the United Kingdom, and is certainly dangerous, to mix radial ply and cross ply tyres on the same axle or to have radial ply tyres on the front axle and cross ply tyres on the rear axle. This applies to all two axle motor vehicles whether front or rear wheel drive.

Tyre pressures

Correct tyre pressures are vital for balanced braking, maximum grip and maximum tyre life.

Recommended pressures may vary according to load or speed. Look in the Vehicle Handbook, or consult Nicks Tyres.

  • Wrong Tyre Pressures (high or low) will cause more rapid wear and shorter tyre life.
  • Low Tyre Pressures also cause increased fuel consumption and consequently increased air pollution.
Higher than necessary pressures may give an uncomfortable ride and reduce grip due to the smaller area in contact with the road.

Pressures should be checked at least every two weeks and when the tyres are cold. Even a short trip to the local garage will warm up the tyre and raise the pressure. Accurate and reliable gauges are not expensive and will soon pay back their cost.


Further Information

Data taken from Information Leaflets produced by DETR.