- Published 13/01/2023
GUIDE: Tyres and the Law in the UK
The legal requirements for tyres on vehicles used on the road in the United Kingdom are specified in the Motor Vehicles (Tyres) Regulations 1994. These Regulations apply to pneumatic tyres on all vehicles except motorcycles, agricultural tractors and vehicle trailers.
The principal requirement of these regulations is that, with certain exceptions, every pneumatic tyre on a vehicle must have at least 1.6mm of tread depth across the central three-quarters of the breadth of tread and around the entire circumference of the tyre.
Vehicle Tyres must also not have any cuts or cracks which go through to the ply or cord, any lump, bulge or tear caused by separation or partial failure of its structure, or exposed ply or cord. Using a tyre that does not comply with these Regulations is an offence.
The driver of a vehicle is responsible for ensuring that its tyres comply with the Regulations, but the owner of a vehicle is also guilty of an offence if he causes or permits it to be used on a road when it does not comply with the regulations. If you are prosecuted for an offence under the Motor Vehicles (Tyres) Regulations 1994 and convicted, you may be fined up to £2,500 and receive 3 penalty points on your licence for each defective tyre.
Safety and Efficiency
In addition to meeting the minimum legal requirements specified in the Motor Vehicles (Tyres) Regulations 1994, there are other factors which you should consider when maintaining your tyres to ensure their safety and efficiency. These include:
Correct tyre inflation - under-inflated tyres can overheat and fail;
Regular visual checks - look for signs of damage, such as cuts or bulges in the sidewalls;
Wheel alignment - incorrect alignment can lead to rapid wear of tyres;
Wheel balancing - this helps to avoid vibration and premature wear;
Use manufacturer's recommended types and sizes - fit only tyres which have been approved for use with your vehicle model.
Although there are no legal requirements specifying how often tyres should be replaced, manufacturers generally recommend that they should be replaced every 6 years regardless of mileage. Tyre life can be reduced by frequent driving on poor roads, so it is important to check them regularly for signs of damage and keep them properly inflated and aligned. Remember, it is illegal to use a vehicle with defective tyres.