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Basic Car Care: How to Check Your Tyre Tread Depth

Basic Car Care: How to Check Your Tyre Tread Depth

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Find out the easiest ways to check the tread depth of your car tyres

Tyre treads are designed to grip the road and prevent your vehicle from skidding. But over time, the constant friction between your tyres and road causes the tread to corrode. In order to stay safe on the roads, you must regularly check whether the depth of your tread meets legal requirements.

How Often Should I Check My Tyre Tread Depth?

We recommend checking your tyre tread depth at least once a month. It’s especially important your tyres have the required tread in wet or slippery conditions – so make sure you’ve checked before travelling in harsh weather, as well as before taking longer journeys.

What’s the Legal Minimum Tread Depth?

You are breaking the law if your tyre tread is less than 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tyre around its entire circumference.

How to Check Your Tyre Tread with a 20p

A popular way to check tyre tread is with a 20p coin.

1. Ensure your vehicle is parked safely on flat ground.

2. Take a 20p coin and identify the outer band – this will be more prominent than the rest of the 20p and should be easy to spot.

3. Insert the 20p into the central three tread grooves of your tyre. - If the outer band is completely concealed, you are above the legal tread limit and safe to drive. - If you can see the outer band, you may be close to or below the legal tread depth limit. Take your car to a tyre specialist – if you’re in the North East, our aftersales team here at Richard Hardie will be happy to advise whether you need a replacement.

4. Remember to check all three grooves in at least three places around the circumference.

How to Use a Tyre Tread Depth Gauge

A more precise way of measuring your tyre tread is with the help up of a tyre tread depth gauge. There is some variety in how such gauges work, but for most, instructions are as follows:

1. Check your tread gauge is accurate by pressing it down on a flat, rigid surface. Ensure it shows ‘0’ when completely compressed.

2. Pull the measuring scale back and press the tip of the gauge inside one of the three middle grooves in your tyre tread. Then push the measuring scale down until it meets the resistance of the outside of the grooves.

3. Take a reading from the gauge, ensuring the tread is above 1.6mm. Repeat your tests across all three of the central grooves in at least three places around the tyre.

4. Use the above only as a guide – check the manufacturer guidelines which come with your tyre tread depth gauge where possible!


Got any more questions or need a tyre replacement? Get in touch with our friendly team here at Richard Hardie today! We’re always happy to help.

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