Have you checked your tread depth recently?

Kwik Fit | Monday 30th July 2018 10:00am

Tyre Tread Depth

There are many statistics surrounding driving. In 2016, there were 37.1 million vehicles licensed for use on UK roads, with 1.87 billion miles driven by cars and almost 180,000 casualties. Of the casualties, 1,792 were fatalities- the highest since 2011. Ensure that your car is both safe and legal by checking your tyre tread depth regularly. The legal limit is 1.6mm which sounds like a small amount but can make the difference between a safe drive and an accident occurring.

As your tyres are the only point of contact between your vehicle and the road, it is crucial that your tyres are in good condition for vehicle safety. If your tread depth is too low, your tyres will not be able to remove enough water from the road’s surface to ensure that grip is maintained. However, drivers often don’t realise the importance of tread depth and ensuring that it is maintained.

Braking distances and the threat of aquaplaning

Although the legal minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm, tyre experts, such as Kwik Fit, and premium tyre manufacturer, Continental, recommend not allowing your tread depth to wear down below 3mm. Independent braking tests show that the braking distance with tyre tread depth at 1.6mm is almost double the distance at 3mm in wet conditions.

As you can see above, the difference in stopping distances for vehicles fitted with summer tyres on a wet road is clear even at fairly low speeds. This difference in stopping distances increases the likelihood of an accident, especially in areas where school children might be crossing.

The chances of aquaplaning also increase with low tread depth. Aquaplaning occurs when tyres lose contact with the road and travel on top of the water, this leads to a total loss of control for the driver. Often drivers will get control back. However, if this doesn’t happen then there is a high chance of accidents.

Stopping Distances

Tyre tread wear differs from driver to driver

Premium tyres, such as the ContiPremiumContact™ 5 are created with 8mm of tread depth. This allows the tyre to remove water quickly from the road’s surface, improving grip and driver safety. However, not all tyres are the same in terms of the way their tread wears.

Factors that contribute to tyre wear are how the car is driven and the compound the tyre is made from. For example, a driver completing a large number of miles at high speeds will see their tyres deteriorate faster than someone making shorter journeys. The superior compounds used in premium tyres will wear down more slowly than cheaper tyres. However, all tyres wear down eventually so it is important to regularly check your tread depths.

How to check your tyre tread depth

Whilst tread depth gauges are available, you can easily check your tread depth yourself using the “20p Test”. Simply place the coin into the grooves of your tyres and see if the coin’s outer band is hidden. If it is, then your tread is above the legal minimum. However, if you can see the outer band of the coin then your tyres may be illegal. This runs the risk of a fine of £2,500 and three penalty points on your licence for each tyre below the legal limit.

Unsure about tyre tread depths? Talk to Kwik Fit

To ensure that your tyre tread depths are safe and legal, contact your local Kwik Fit. You can find your nearest centre here.

Adverts Advice Air conditioning Alignment all season tyres Apprenticeships Awards Balancing Batteries brakes braking distance breakdowns Brexit Budget tyres buying guide Car Car care car crime Car Service car tips Caravans Charity child seats Christmas cleaning Community competition Continental Crossover tyres Diagnostics diesel Driving EU tyre labelling europe Events Exhausts Feedback Fleet Services Fuel System Cleaner giveaway Goodyear highway code holiday Innovation Kwik Fit Centres Lists Maintenance Meet the Team Michelin Mobile Tyre Fitting MOT Motability Motoring motorway news oil Oil change Part Worn Tyres Pirelli potholes Premium tyres Promotions puncture Quiz Research Road safety road trips safety school runs servicing Stopping distances Summer summer tyres Suspension SUV tyres technology Tips TPMS Trailer tyres Training Travel Tips tread depth types of tyre tyre care tyre checks tyre hotel Tyre Labelling tyre pressure tyre reviews tyre size tyre tests Tyre tread tyre types tyres TyreSafe van tyres Vehicle maintenance Video warranty wheel alignment winter Winter checks winter driving winter tyres Young Drivers
Services Search for Tyres, MOT and Servicing with your vehicle registration.
registration plate

Tyre Search By Size Unsure where to find your tyre size? Click here.

Exclusive Online Tyre Pricing

We are committed to offering customers our most competitive tyre prices. Read about our exclusive online tyre pricing.

Locate A Centre

Kwik Fit has over 600 centres across the UK including Northern Ireland, many of which are open 7 days a week for your convenience.


We offer a series of FAQs to help you learn more about our services or your vehicle.

Customer Services

0800 75 76 77
Our Customer Service opening hours are 8:30am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm Saturdays and 10:00am to 4:00pm Sundays.