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How to check your tyre tread levels

To the untrained eye it can become an almost impossible task to know if your tyre’s tread is at a safe level, as it often comes down to the tiniest dimensions, but if you fail to identify an issue then it could be a very serious issue. Tyres are very important to the performance of your car – to put it simply, they are the only things that are connecting your vehicle with the road, so as you can imagine, they’re extremely important in providing high levels of grip, stopping ability, performance and safety. The tread life indicates the durability and stability of your tyre’s shelf-life, so you can know when it’s at its optimum level of performance.

The legal limit for car tyre tread depth is 1.6mm (across 75% of the tyre) and there are many ways for which you can check this, with the most obvious being to inspect the wear indicator on the tyre. Newer tires have a convenience that older tires lacked. They have tread wear indicator bars built into the tires themselves. These bars, invisible or barely visible when the tires are new, gradually begin to appear as the tread wears down. They appear as flat rubber bars running perpendicular to the direction of the tread itself. If more than one or two of these are visible on a tire, the tread is getting low.

Another less conventional way to check your tread depth is above the legal limit is to place a 20p coin in the tread. If the border around the edge of the coin is visible then you should replace the tyre immediately as this can be very hazardous for your car’s performance. This is a great and simple way of locating the tread depth, although it is important to remember that the use of a coin is only a rough guide – for a more accurate reading, you should use a tread gauge designed specifically for this instance, or consult your local garage.

In an ideal world, you should check your tyre's tread depth and pressure at least once every two weeks to ensure you get a thorough reading of their durability. By doing this you can catch any potential problems with your tyres early on, making you safer on the roads. If your tyres do need to be changed, then it’s recommend that you change them every six years so to keep your car performing at its maximum.


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