UK tyre laws

Author Name – Louise Helsby

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Do you know the laws relating to tyres? Do you know what responsibilities you as a driver have to ensure the tyres on your car are safe?

If in doubt, read this quick guide to UK tyre law.

tyre law


What are the risks of dangerous tyres?

Every year, dangerous tyres lead to around 5,000 convictions, 900 casualties, and 160 deaths or serious injuries. Not only that, but illegal tyres can actually end up costing you more than the price of a new set: you could face fines of up to £2500 and 3 points on your licence per illegal tyre, not to mention that if you're found to have illegal tyres in an accident, it can invalidate your insurance.

A free tyre check from National can make sure your four wheels are ready for the road. Book in now to stay safe on your journeys.

Book a Free Tyre Check

Want to know more about looking after your tyres? Check out our online tyre safety hub.


There are 3 main areas relating to tyre law that every driver should be aware of, these are:

The law is clear on the legal standards required in each of these areas for maintaining vehicle safety.

Tread depth

The minimum legal tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm. This means that when a tread depth is checked it must measure at least 1.6mm in 3 places across the centre of the tyre and around the circumference too. If tyres do not meet this legal requirement, you could receive a fine of £2,500 and 3 points on your license per illegal tyre.

Although 1.6mm is the legal requirement, most manufacturers would recommend that tyres are changed once the tread wears down to 3mm remaining; anything less than this starts to affect the performance of the tyre, particularly in adverse weather conditions. Independent research conducted by MIRA (the Motor Industry Research Association) has stated it can take up to 10 car lengths for a car to stop in wet weather conditions on a motorway if a tyre is at its legal limit.

Related: Learn how to check the tread depths

Checking your tread depth regularly is so important for the safety of you, your passengers and other road users.

Tyre pressures

It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that each tyre is inflated to the recommendations of the vehicle manufacturer, this is often in the car’s manual but if in doubt simply enter your vehicle registration in our handy look-up tool.

Tyre pressures are important for safety as under-inflated tyres can overheat leading to poor vehicle handling. Tyre pressures should be altered as and when vehicle loads increase or decrease. Having over or under-inflated tyres can cause them to wear prematurely meaning they will need to be replaced sooner than expected. Incorrect pressures also increase the fuel consumption of the car increasing the cost of motoring for the driver.

Once you have determined the correct pressures of your tyres, each tyre should be checked individually using a pressure gauge to determine if they need inflating or deflating.

Tyre condition

The condition of your tyres should be checked regularly. They should be visually checked for signs of damage such as cuts, breaks and abrasions. If the treads have been penetrated by an object they can often be repaired safely at little cost. When checking the tyres, look for stones or other objects stuck in the treads and check for any damage to the sidewalls.

Simple, regular checks of your tyres will ensure you are safe and legal when driving in the UK. Book a FREE safety inspection at one of our friendly branches today.

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