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Tyre Tread Depth: The Basics

At Derek Campbell Tyre and Exhaust Centre it often surprises us just how little many of the motorists we meet actually know about the tyres that keep them on the road, and in particular the tread depth of their own tyres. A big part of what we do is raising awareness of this vital issue, breaking down the facts and making everything plain and straightforward for our customers.

The tread of a tyre is the small area of the type which is actually in contact with the road whilst your vehicle is moving. It can be determined by measuring how deep the grooves in your tyre are relative to the height of the tread, and will decrease over time and repeated use. As tyres lose their tread over time you increase the risk of that tyre losing its grip and even aquaplaning in wet conditions.

Fortunately there are some simple checks that you can add to your driving routine to make sure that your tyres are in roadworthy condition.

What are the signs of Tyre Tread Wear?

The main thing to watch out for is the horizontal ridges in the grooves of your tyres. Once these have reached the same height as the tread of the tyre it is time to get a replacement.

What checks can I make?

A quick look over your tyres can tell you a lot, but the best way to go about it is to take a closer look at regular intervals, not just for signs of tyre tread wear but for other signs of damage. For accurate measurements you can buy a tyre tread depth gauge from various suppliers.

If you really want to stay on top of your tyres, a good habit to get into can be to carry out checks for tyre tread wear on a fortnightly or even on a weekly basis depending on how much you drive every day. This shouldn’t last more than a few minutes each time and can really give you peace of mind.

What’s the Minimum Tyre Tread Depth?

UK law states that the minimum tyre tread depth to be used on tyres by UK motorists should be no less than 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the tyre. However, most safety experts agree that you should replace your tyres when they reach 3mm. New premium tyres are supplied to motorists with a tread depth of 8mm.

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