posted 3 months ago

Millions Of UK Vehicles Have Illegal Tyres

Motorists throughout United Kingdom risking lives by replacing tyres too late, road safety charity survey shows.

Percentage of illegal tyres revealed

A UK survey showed that 1 in 4 of the nation's 37.5 million cars and light commercial vehicles might have illegal tyres, TyreSafe revealed. The non-profit organisation – that conducted its research alongside Highways England – said that it evaluated 340,000 discarded tyres and 27.3% were illegal/unsafe before being removed.

Regional variations

Survey results for the countries within the United Kingdom varied considerably, and 819 tyre retailers participated. The highest percentage of illegals were in Northern Ireland, at 36.5%. It preceded: Wales (29.1%), Scotland (27.4%) and then England (26.8%).

illegal tyres

Bristol was the city with the highest percentage of illegal/unsafe tyres, at 46.2%. It was followed by: Birmingham (42%), Manchester (35.4%), Cardiff (31.8%), Cambridge (29.5%), Liverpool (26%), Leeds (24.4%), Newcastle-upon-Tyne (21.4%), Edinburgh (20.6%) then Greater London – within the M25 – where 13.8% fell foul of the law. 

To be legal, a tyre must have at least 1.6mm of tread across the central 75% of its width, and around the circumference. Tread influences how vehicles brake in the wet, after all. A car travelling at 50mph in the wet – sporting 1.6mm – takes a further 12 metres to stop than if fitted with new tyres. 

illegal tyres

Unsafe tyres cause collisions

TyreSafe Chairman, Stuart Jackson, is concerned by the number of illegal tyres on the road in the United Kingdom. He explained: “Figures from the Department for Transport show that dangerous tyres are the largest, single, contributory factor in accidents resulting in casualties of any vehicle defect – including brakes.”

Mr Jackson added: “If the number of casualties from tyre-related incidents is to be reduced on our roads, the UK’s motorists need to change their attitude to this primary safety feature and carry out regular checks to ensure their vehicle’s tyres are roadworthy.”

How to check a tyre

  • Here is the summary of how to check a tyre's status. In addition to the safety benefits, such actions eliminate the risk of a £2,500 fine (up to per-wheel), and getting driving licence penalty points.
  • Air pressure. Confirm the correct pressure as recommended by the manufacturer. It is typically revealed via a label on the b-pillar, inside the fuel filler flap/glovebox, or the manual.
  • Check tread depth. A gauge costs very little, but the outer edge of a 20 pence coin is a fair substitute. If is it visible when inserted into the tread the tyre might require replacing.
  • Check for punctures, bulges and excessive cracks.
  • If in doubt, seek professional help.
  • Complete such checks monthly and before long journeys. 

illegal tyres