What keeps you on the road?

When you are driving a car you have four pieces of rubber about the size of your hand in contact with the planet. Other larger vehicles will have six or more pieces of rubber but when you think about it, that isn’t much.

Other than keeping you on the road, what else do tyres do? They are designed to disperse water so that the tyre remains in contact with the road surface, therefore tyres have a tread patten. Without sufficient tread the vehicle could not disperse the water resulting in aquaplaning. What is the minimum tread depth?

Tread depth
The table below shows the basic tyre tread depth requirements:

Type of vehicle Minimum tread depth
Cars, goods vehicles e.g. vans, not exceeding 3500kg
Trailers and caravans not exceeding 3500kg
At least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band in the centre 3/4 of the tread and around the entire circumference
Most other vehicles e.g. busses, large goods vehicles etc. At least 1mm throughout a continuous band across at least 3/4 of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference. The original tread pattern must be clearly visible in the remaining quarter.

At least 1mm where the original pattern did not extend beyond three-quarters of the breadth of the tread.

Motorcycles over 50cc At least 1mm throughout a continuous band across at least 3/4 of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference. The original tread pattern must be clearly visible in the remaining quarter.

At least 1mm in where the original pattern did not extend beyond three-quarters of the breadth of the tread.

Mopeds and motorcycles not exceeding 50cc The original tread pattern must be clearly visible

 

Tyres are also designed to flex; this is important to maintain grip when cornering.

How should you check the tyres? You should check your tyres regularly for damage, tread depth and tyre pressures. Look for the following:

  • Has it got a cut in excess of 25mm or 10 per cent of the section width of the tyre, whichever is the greater, deep enough to reach the ply or cord?
  • Has it got a lump, bulge or tear caused by separation or partial fracture of its structure?
  • Is it unsuitable with regard to the vehicle’s use or to the types of tyres fitted to the other wheels (this does not apply to temporary use spare tyres)?
  • Has any portion of the ply or cord been exposed?
  • Is it maintained in fit condition for the use to which the vehicle or trailer is put?
  • Is it inflated to the correct tyre pressure as detailed in your handbook?
  • Has it got any defects that might cause damage to the road surface or to persons on or in the vehicle or using the road?

 

Don’t take a chance with defective tyres. If you’re caught by police, you could face a maximum court-issued £2,500 fine and three points per tyre. So if all four of your tyres are below the legal limit, you could potentially lose your licence and face up to £10,000 in fines.

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