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Tyre Information: Tyres, Tyre Wear and Legislation on Tread Depths

Why are tyres so important?

When driving down the road, only a small part of each tyre actually touches the road at any given time. Close to half of the accidents, happen when a car experiences a skid. Tyres are a critical component to completing safe journeys and having them professionally fitted by qualified personnel like those at Tyre Shopper is a smart way to go.

Why does the tyre tread matter for performance?

Tyre tread is there to help the tyres gain a better grip on the road as they rotate. Large amounts of water floating on the road’s surface need to be pushed out by the tyre treads.

To put this in perspective, riding at 60mph, with only a 3mm water level on the road, a tyre has to work to push away 2 gallons of water every second. With heavy rain, 3mm of water is not uncommon. Riding across a large puddle, the depth can reach 8-10mm quite quickly.

Aquaplane Issues

Aquaplaning is when a layer of water builds between the tyre and road, preventing the tyre from maintaining a grip on the road below it. This is a major problem for maintaining control of the vehicle when this happens. Either low or worn tread is extremely dangerous because a tyre loses the capacity to handle the water level.

Is there a legal tread limit in the UK?

UK law requires that tyres still retain a tread depth of no less than 1.6mm in a non-interrupted band covering at least 75 percent of each tyre. This is the lowest level and for safety purposes, a tyre this worn should be replaced right away.

There is also EU tyre labelling that is shown as three labels providing information about fuel efficiency, wet grip, and noise levels for regular tyres sold in the UK.

How to check if a tyre is below the legal tread limit?

Many manufacturers include tread bars in the tyre at the 1.6mm mark. If the car owner can see any of these bars in the tyre, then they need to replace the tyre immediately because it is no longer either legal or safe to drive on it.

Wet braking distances were said to be much longer when tread goes under 3mm according to the test centre, MIRA.

Why do tyres wear out earlier than expected?

Tyres can need replacing much sooner due to faster than anticipated tread wear or tread wear that is unevenly disbursed.

The typical reasons for faster tread wear are:

  • Over-inflating – The centre of the tread wears faster
  • Under inflating – The edges of the tread wear faster
  • Incorrect tracking or wheel alignment – The inside or outside edges of only the front tyres wear faster
  • Incorrect balancing of the wheels – Bald spots are created in the tread

To learn about correct tyre pressure, we have some information about that to help our customers.

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