What Makes Tyres Illegal?
While it may seem like there are no obvious problems with your car tyres, there are a variety of factors that can impact how they perform. If it’s been some time since they were last checked, you may even be driving with illegal tyres. So, it’s essential to check your tyres regularly to avoid potential fines and to stay safe on the road.
Knowing exactly what to look out for when it comes to tyre maintenance can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you identify tyre problems and what exactly can make your tyres illegal.
What happens if I drive with illegal tyres?
Driving with inadequate tyres can not only be extremely dangerous but could also potentially result in fines of up to £2,500 per tyre, three penalty points on your license and invalidated car insurance. Therefore, it’s crucial that your tyres are roadworthy and that you conduct regular tyre safety checks.
If you’re concerned about the state of your tyres, you can book a FREE tyre check at one of our National garages.
Low tread depth
Low tread depth is one of the most common tyre problems and can lead to serious issues such as loss of traction and aquaplaning. The legal minimum depth of tread is 1.6mm and anything below this can lead to ‘bald tyres’ where the tyre rubber has been completely worn down. You can expect three points on your license and a fine of up to £2,500 per tyre if you’re stopped by the police with low tread depth, so it’s crucial to get your tyres replaced if you’ve noticed any kind of excessive wear.
Discover more on how to check your tyre tread depth with our handy blog.
It’s also worth noting that a tyre depth check and tyre inflation check and top-up is included in our 10-Point Car Check.
Damage to tyre sidewall
There are several ways your tyre sidewall can become damaged, including scratches, cracks, bulges, and cuts. These can occur for different reasons:
- Cracked tyres are often due to aging tyres, but can also be worsened by UV rays and extreme temperatures.
- Cut or slashed tyres in your tyre sidewall are caused by debris in the road such as nails or glass.
- Scratched and scraped tyres can be a result of mounting the kerb.
- Bulging tyres can be caused by driving over an object too quickly such as potholes or speed bumps, or if you have overinflated your tyres.
While it may seem ok to ignore a minor scratch on your tyre sidewall, any damage can weaken the overall tyre structure, which could lead to a blowout and a serious accident. Each of these tyre defects are also likely to cause your car to fail its MOT, so it’s important to get them replaced as soon as possible.
Under or over-inflated tyres
Maintaining the correct tyre pressure allows the weight of your vehicle to be evenly distributed. As a result, both under and over-inflated tyres can lead to serious issues.
Under-inflated tyres are a common issue and are the leading cause of tyre failure. Not only can under-inflated tyres lead to fines and penalty points but they can also:
- Increase your fuel consumption
- Increase your braking distances
- Cause uneven tread wear
- Lead to poor handling
Overinflated tyres can also pose a threat to your vehicle:
- Poor traction
- Poor handling
- Difficulty braking
- Uneven tread wear
For more information on tyre pressure, check out our blog on how to inflate tyres.
Tyres that aren’t suitable for your vehicle
Choosing tyres that are unsuitable for the style and purpose of your vehicle can cause major problems. They may not meet your car’s load requirements or the maximum speed rating of your vehicle. Fitting tyres that are too small or large for your vehicle can have a significant impact on handling - and could also lead to fines and penalty points.
To find the right tyre size for your vehicle, you can either check the tyre markings on your current set of wheels, look at your vehicle handbook, check your door jam or inside the fuel cap.
For more information on choosing the right tyres, check out our guide on how to choose the best tyres for your vehicle.
If you’re worried that you may be driving with illegal tyres, and would like the peace of mind of a professional check, book a FREE tyre check at National Tyres and Autocare. Our skilled technicians will check the condition of your tyres and give advise you on what to do next, so you can be sure that you’re hitting the road safely.
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