Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist are warning motorists to make regular checks on their tyres to ensure tread depths are sufficient and pressures are correct.
Motorists risk a £2,500 fine and three penalty points if they drive with a worn tyre. If all four tyres on the car are worn below the legal limit, you could potentially lose your licence and face a £10,000 fine.
The legal minimum tread depth for a car is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tread width and round its entire circumference.
Neil Worth, GEM road safety officer said: “We rely on our tyres to keep us safe on journeys. After all, they provide the only contact between the car we’re driving and the road surface.
“In an extreme situation, correctly inflated tyres with good levels of tread will allow all the other safety systems on a car to work at their most effective.
“Inadequate tread or incorrect pressure mean one thing: the safety systems on your vehicle will not work as efficiently. That’s why regular checks on tyre inflation and tread depth are so important.
“There are severe penalties if you use worn or defective tyres. Each bald or defective tyre carries a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points.”
Although the tread depth of 1.6mm is the legal minimum many experts warn that you should replace your tyres once the tread is below 3mm – this is because stopping distances increase dramatically for car below this tread depth.
KwikFit warn that a car travelling at 50 mph in the wet weather with 1.6mm tread will take an extra two car lengths – eight metres – to stop than if the tread was 3mm.
The RAC say that worn tyres are particularly dangerous in the wet because a tyre’s tread helps disperse water away. If there’s less tread depth, less water can be shifted, increasing the risk of aquaplaning and losing grip.
Neil Worth of GEM concludes: “We’re urging drivers to take time on a regular basis to ensure their tyres are correctly inflated, with plenty of tread.
“Straightforward checks don’t take long, and good tyres really could prove a life-saver for you and your passengers… possibly on your very next journey.”
GEM have provided tyre tips that motorists can follow:
• Check the tread on each tyre on a regular basis – every two weeks should be a minimum.
• Remember that you should carry out proper checks across the entire width of a tyre and around its circumference. Check the depth of the main tread grooves in several places across and around the tyre.
• Use a simple gauge to check tread depth. The legal minimum tread depth for a car is 1.6 mm across the central three-quarters of the tread width and round its entire circumference.
• You will also find tread wear indicators at regular intervals around the main grooves. When a tyre’s tread surface is worn to the same level as these indicators, then the tyre is at the legal limit and must be replaced.
• Check for any cuts, tears, swellings and bumps. These could be caused by going through a pothole or hitting the kerb. If there’s anything to give you cause for concern, then get the tyre checked by an expert as soon as possible.
• Check pressure using a tyre pressure gauge or the air machines found on most garage forecourts (some will charge you, a few are still free). Pressures for your car can normally be found in your owner’s manual. You may also find the pressure marked on the driver’s door pillar or inside the fuel flap. Otherwise, look up the pressures you need using a tyre pressure website.
• Recommended tyre pressures change if you are carrying a full load or a lot of passengers. So make sure you use the right figure for the journeys you are about to make.
• Don’t forget to check the condition of the spare tyre. Too often it’s the forgotten tyre until you suddenly find you need it.