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Tyres > Help > Tyres > How to check tyre tread

How to check tyre tread

The current UK law states that the legal car tyre tread depth is 1.6mm across 75% of the central section of the tyre.

For a tyre to be legally fit for use, the entire circumference of the tyre must adhere to this rule.

What is tyre tread?

The tread of a tyre is the section of the tyre which is in contact with a road’s surface. Depending on the pattern of grooves used on the tyre’s tread - different performance abilities are experienced.

How to test your tread depth

To test whether the tread depth of your tyre adheres to the law, there are 2 ways to check.

One is a quick procedure, which will tell you that the tyre is above or below the legal limit. The other is a more accurate way, allowing you to know the exact depth left on your tyres.

How to check the tread depth with a coin

How to check tread depth with 20p

You can perform a quick and simple test to determine a tyre's tread depth.

Take a 20p and place it between the main grooves of the tyre. If you can see the outer band of the coin, the tyre may have insufficient tread depth. It is always advisable to check several spots on your tyre’s circumference.

checking tread depth of tyres with 20p

At this point, you should have your tyres checked over by a qualified mechanic.

How to check tread depth with 10p

Prior to 2011, there were guides put out that suggested the use of a 10p to test the tread depth of a tyre. Much like the 20p test, when a person put 10p into the tread of a tyre they were checking whether they could see the ring of small dots around the edge of the coin. These were approx 1.6mm from the edge. However, since 2013, the design of the 10p changed and it no longer features the outer band of dots.

How to check tread depth with 50p

Like the 20p test, some people ask whether or not a 50p could be used to test the tread depth. Being a larger coin, it is not as useful a test. The dimension do not suit the test as much as a 20 pence coin does.

Using Tyre Gauges

Tyre gauges allow you to determine the exact depth of your tyre’s tread depth, down to the millimetre.

Various types of gauges are available on the market – with varying price points.

To test your car tyres, take your gauge and insert the depth finder between the grooves. The gauge should provide you with a readout telling you exactly how deep the depth is.

Checking tread depth of tyres with depth gauge

What happens when driving on worn tyres?

When caught driving on worn, illegal tyres, you will likely receive a £2,500 fine. Plus three points on your licence. This is the case for each tyre which is unlawful.

The legality and financial implications aside, driving on worn tyres is dangerous.

If you are driving with insufficient tread depth on your tyres, the braking, handling and stability of the tyres is compromised. Leading to an increased chance of an accident.

Does Low Tyre Tread Affect Your Insurance?

Driving on tyres with a tread level below the legal limit is dangerous.

If you are in an accident and your tyre tread is below the legal depth, any insurance claims may invalid.

This could lead to your insurer not agreeing to pay for repairs or an injury claim.