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Why it pays to check your tyres before your MOT

Kwik Fit | Tuesday 11th April 2017 10:15am

overinflated tyre wear

New data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has revealed that tyre defects account for more than a quarter of all car MOT failures. The figures were requested by TyreSafe -  the UK charity dedicated to raising awareness of correct tyre maintenance – and reveal that an astonishing 2.2 million cars failed their MOT in 2016 due to dangerous or illegal tyres*.

Tyres remain the second most common reason for MOT failures behind faulty lighting and blown bulbs, but this number continues to rise. Having reported in 2016 that tyre defects accounted for 10% of all failures, this huge shift shows that drivers are still failing to check their tyres on a regular basis between MOTs, leaving themselves and other road users at an increased risk of accidents and potential fines.

Rest assured, checking the tread and condition of the tyres is all part of the MOT test, but regular checks are so quick and easy to do, why would you leave it until your annual test to be told your tyres no longer cut the mustard? Your tyres could be potentially dangerous for the best part of a year, or even longer if you drive a new car…

The first MOT

TyreSafe also found that, of the 2.2 million MOT failures due to tyre defects, 106,000 of the vehicles were taking their first MOT. That equates to a 5% failure rate due to tyre defects for all cars taking their first MOT. Currently, all cars require their first MOT when the vehicle reaches 3 years of age (with the exception of taxis which must be tested after 1 year).  However, the MOT grace period is currently undergoing consultation with the Government arguing that the first MOT should be carried out after four years as the existing three-year gap was implemented when vehicles were not as reliable as they are today.

That may be true but TyreSafe is keen to remind motorists that tyres’ tread depth can easily be worn to below legal limits within three years (let alone four) and are vulnerable to damage at any time as a result of road debris and potholes. We would tend to agree and the above evidence would suggest that many drivers continue to use tyres that are overly worn or damaged, only replacing these when the owner has no choice, for example, following an MOT failure.

Time to ACT

Carrying out routine tyre maintenance checks is simple and needn’t take more than a few minutes every month. TyreSafe urges drivers to remember this simple acronym and ACT: Air pressure, Condition, Tread.

Air pressure: Always make sure your tyre pressure is at the correct level as per the manufacturer’s recommendation. You can find your recommended air pressure in your vehicle handbook or by using our pressure checker tool.

Condition: Make sure your tyres don’t show any signs of irregular wear or damage such as bulges, lumps, exposed cords or any cuts.

Tread Depth: A simple way to check to see if your tyre tread depth exceeds the minimum legal limit of 1.6mm is to use the 20p method. Place a 20p piece inside the main tread groove of the tyre and make sure your eyeline is level with the tyre. If the outer band of the 20p piece is visible, your tread is either nearing or beyond the legal limit so have them checked as soon as possible.


ACT - advice for checking tyres


More checks to help you pass your MOT

Tyres aren’t the only common reason why drivers fail their MOT. Here are some further simple checks recommended by the DVSA to help you avoid an MOT fail, or worse, a serious accident.

Make sure that:

  • the vehicle brakes smoothly and doesn’t pull to one side when braking
  • your headlights and other lights work – lights are the most common cause of MOT failures which can be easily avoided by checking all lights beforehand. Give them a tap to check they’re not loose or damaged and check the colours are correct and match
  • windscreen washers work and wipers show no signs of wear or damage such as splitting
  • the driver’s view of the road is not obstructed. Items such as stickers, sat nav mounts, toys or air fresheners that are seen to be an obstruction can result in a fail
  • Dashboard warning lights such as TPMS fault indicator are not illuminated.



*Source: Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency. MOT failures data 2016


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