What is The Legal Tyre Tread Depth And How to Check It?

Your vehicle’s Tyres Sheffield are the only contact points with the road, making their condition a critical aspect of road safety. The tread depth of your tyres plays a vital role in maintaining traction and grip, especially during wet and slippery conditions. Driving with tyres that have insufficient tread depth can significantly increase the risk of accidents and aquaplaning. To ensure road safety and comply with legal requirements, it is essential to understand the legal tyre tread depth and know how to check it regularly. In this article, we will delve into the legal requirements for tyre tread depth and provide a step-by-step guide on how to check it effectively.

Legal Requirements For Tyre Tread Depth

In most countries, including the United Kingdom, the legal minimum tread depth for car tyres is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre’s width and around its entire circumference. This legal requirement is in place to ensure adequate grip and traction on wet and slippery roads, reducing the risk of accidents due to skidding or hydroplaning. Tyres with tread depths below the legal limit are not only unsafe but also subject to fines and penalties if detected by authorities during inspections.

It is important to note that the legal tread depth applies to the entire circumference of the tyre and not just certain areas. Driving with tyres that have uneven tread wear or damaged areas could still get considered illegal even if the tread depth at some spots is above the legal limit. Therefore, it is crucial to inspect the entire circumference of each tyre regularly.

How to Check Tyre Tread Depth

A 20p coin (in the UK) or the built-in tread wear indicators on the tyres are two common ways to check the depth of your tyres’ tread. Here is a step-by-step tutorial for measuring the tread depth on your tyres:

Method 1: Using a Tyre Tread Depth Gauge

A tyre tread depth gauge is a specific tool designed to measure the depth of the tread grooves accurately. It is an inexpensive and widely available tool. Here’s how to use a tyre tread depth gauge:

  • Park your vehicle on a level surface and ensure the tyres are cool before proceeding with the check.
  • Select one of the front tyres for the initial measurement. Starting from the outermost groove, insert the probe of the tread depth gauge into the groove until it reaches the bottom.
  • Look at the measurement displayed on the gauge. The reading represents the tread depth in millimeters. Ensure that the measurement is properly taken in different grooves across the entire width of the tyre.
  • Repeat the process for each tyre, including the spare tyre (if applicable). Compare the readings to the legal minimum of 1.6mm. If any of the tyres have tread depths below the legal limit, they need replacing immediately.

Method 2: Using a 20p Coin (UK-Specific)

In the UK, checking the tread depth of tyres is quick and simple with a 20p coin. The outer band of the 20p coin is approximately 1.6mm wide making it a suitable indicator for the legal minimum tread depth. Here’s how to use a 20p coin:

  • Park your vehicle on a level surface and ensure the tyres are cool before proceeding with the check.
  • Take a 20p coin and insert it into the main grooves of the tyre ensuring the Queen’s head on the coin is facing down.
  •  Observe the coin’s position within the groove.The tread depth on the tyre is probably less than the legal maximum of 1.6 millimetres. And it has to be replaced if the outer ring of the coin is still discernible.
  • Repeat the process for each tyre, including the spare tyre (if applicable). If any of the tyres fail the 20p coin test they should get replaced immediately to maintain road safety and compliance with legal requirements.

Rotate your tyres:

Regularly rotating your tyres can promote even wear across all tyres, extending their lifespan and ensuring consistent performance.

Inspect for signs of damage:

Routinely inspect your tyres for signs of damage, such as cuts, bulges, or punctures. Address any damage immediately, as it can compromise the tyre’s integrity and safety.


Ensuring your Avon Tyres Sheffield have adequate tread depth is crucial for your safety on the road and compliance with legal requirements. Regularly checking the tyre tread depth using a tyre tread depth gauge, a 20p coin (in the UK), or built-in tread wear indicators helps. You identify when it’s time to replace worn tyres. Remember, maintaining the recommended tyre tread depth not only ensures optimal grip and handling but also reduces the risk of accidents. Especially in wet and slippery conditions. Always prioritize your vehicle’s maintenance and safety and replace worn tyres promptly to keep your car roadworthy and your journeys safe.

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