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The legal minimum tread depth for car in the UK is 1.6mm throughout a continuous band comprising the central three-quarters of depth of the tread and around its entire outer circumference. When driving in wet weather, your tyre tread grooves help to remove water from the contact between your tyres and the road surface which means that your car can brake, steer and accelerate properly. Without adequate tread depth, your tyres may not be able to perform properly in wet conditions, reducing your safety on the road. It is therefore advisable to consider replacing your tyres well before they reach the minimum legal requirement.

Effects of low tyre tread

The lower your tread depth is, the lower your tyre’s grip on the road which can in turn increase the braking distances and affect the handling and performance of your vehicle. Tyre professionals recommend changing your tyres once your tread depth reaches 2mm, despite the minimum requirement being 1.6mm because the difference between the legal requirement and our recommendation could be the difference between stopping in time and not stopping before you bump into the car in front of you.

20p Test

A quick and effortless way to see if your tyre tread exceeds the minimum legal tread depth is to take the 20p test. To conduct this test all you must do is simply place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre. Yet the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, when your tyre tread is above the legal limit.  If the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe, so you should consider taking it into a professional immediately. If you need to replace your tyre you can check online for cheap tyres at competitive prices.

Tread Depth Gauge

Another simple way of checking your tyre depth is by using a tread depth gauge, this can be found at any local auto shop. As with any product there are various versions of this gauge out, but an inexpensive gauge will work just fine, all you have to do is stick the probe into a groove in the tread and press the shoulders of the probe flat against the tread block and read the result.

Tread Wear Indicator Bands

Your tyres are equipped to tell you if they are worn out or not. Every performance, light truck or medium commercial tyre comes equipped with an indicator or wear bars that have been embedded between the tread. These indicators have been placed to help you monitor tread depth and make decisions about tyre replacement. If the tread is flushed with the indicator bars, if they are then it is time to replace the tyres.

While the 20p test does what it sets out to do (telling you that your tyre has reached its legal limit) it does not however tell you if your tyres are safe for the road or not. Even though the law dictates what the legal minimum tread count is the effects of that count might differ depending on your car and way of driving.

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