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How to Check Your Tyre Tread

How to check your tyre tread depth

Published 11 October 2019


Why it’s important to check tyre tread?

Checking your tyre tread depth is one of the most important checks you can make on your car.  Having the correct tread enables your tyres to grip the road. Without tread the tyre’s ability to grip a wet road is severely limited, making it almost impossible to stop, turn, accelerate and corner.

Aside from the safety issues, you can be fined up to £2,500 and get 3 penalty points for each worn tyre.  If all four tyres are illegal that’s £10,000 fine and you could lose your licence.


What is the legal depth for your tyre tread?

The minimum depth of tread on your tyres is 1.6 millimetres, across the central ¾ which is 75% of the tread around the complete circumference of the tyre.


What is the expert-recommended minimum tyre tread depth?

Manufacturers and safety experts believe the 1.6mm legal minimum is insufficient to guarantee safety. Therefore most recommend a minimum tread depth of 3mm.

There is a significant difference in wet braking distance between a tyre worn to 3mm and one worn to 1.6mm which can be as much as 44%. 


When should I replace my tyres?

If your tread depth is between 1.6 and 3mm then it is time to start thinking about ordering a new set of wheels for your ride!

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) recommends that tyres should be replaced as soon as the tread reaches 3mm.


How do I check my tyre tread depth?

There are a few different ways you can check the tyre tread depth:

Tread Wear Indicators

Tread wear indicator bars are moulded into the tread grooves of tyres at regular intervals.

They are small blocks of rubber that help you see with a quick visual check if your tyres need replacing.

If the tyre is flush with these, it is below the legal limit and needs replacing.

Tyre Tread Indicator Bars


Depth Measuring Gauge

A tyre depth measuring gauge is a purpose made tool that quickly measure the depth of an individual tyre groove.

It’s small enough to keep handy in your glove box for regular checking.

Simply insert it in the lowest tread depth of your tyres and read the measurement.

If the reading is 3mm or less replace it immediately.

How to check your tyre tread depth


20p Test

A 20p coin has a border which measures 3mm.

Insert a 20p coin into the lowest tread depth of your tyres.

If you can’t see the outer rim around the edge of the coin, then your tyre is safe.

If you can see the rim then your tyre tread is less than 3mm and should be replaced. 

Keep Your Tyres Roadworthy


How often do I need to check my tyres?

Ideally you should check your tyre tread depth  at least once every two weeks, and at a minimum once a month.


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