How often do you check if your tyres are legal? Probably not often enough. If you're one of the many people who leave tyre checks until your annual MOT Test/Service you're not alone. Fortunately, there is a very simple test and all it requires is a 20 pence piece.
Just a small reminder that the penalty for an illegal tyre is up to £2500 and 3 points on your license. Ultimately this means you could face a £10,000 fine and a driving ban if all 4 tyres are illegal, something we could all do without!
So just what is the legal requirement for a tyre? Well in line with the the MOT rule book, the central 3/4 of the tyre tread is the only part of the tyre that has to have tread of atleast 1.6mm. This means that outside the central 3/4s of the tyre can technically be completely bald/devoid of tread and not be illegal. However, for obvious reasons this doesn't mean the tyre is safe and usually indicates that the wheel alignment is out, especially if the rest of the tyre has good tread left.
The only time the tyre outside the central 3/4s of the tyre can be an issue, is if the tyre cords have come through just like in the picture below. This is extremely dangerous and we strongly advise you do not drive the vehicle if the tyre has reached this state.
We've now established that you require a minimum of 1.6mm across the central 3/4s of the tyre, assuming the cords aren't showing on the edges. The simple trick to testing your tyres requires only a 20 pence piece. The outside border that surrounds the coin is exactly 2mm deep which is why it can be used to measure the minimum depth of the tread on any tyre. As you can see in the picture below, you can very quickly establish whether or not your tyre is legal, illegal or very close to being illegal by placing the 20p into the tyre tread and seeing how far up the coin the tread comes.
We hope that this helps you, if you're ever unsure about tread depths make sure you give us a call and we'd be more than happy to give you advice.