Tyres Tread Depth and Safety

Tyre Depth

Few parts on a car are as important as our tyres. They’re the only contact point between our cars and the road and are essential for safe braking and acceleration, control, and ride quality.

With this in mind, it’s important to ensure that your tyre tread depths are at the legal requirement. Here’s everything you need to know about checking your tyre tread depth.

What is tyre tread

Your tyre's tread is designed to keep the tyre in contact with the road. So, as your tyre wears, its ability to grip the road decreases, meaning longer stopping distances and a higher risk of aquaplaning.

Driving with worn tyres is not only a serious safety risk, but a costly one too. In the UK, the fine for bald tyres is £2,500 plus three points on your licence per tyre, so it's really important to check them monthly for any signs of damage or wear.

Minimum legal tread depth

So, what is the minimum tread depth required for car tyres?

While a new car tyre begins life with approximately 8mm of tread, the minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm. However, most motoring organisations recommend changing your tyres before the tread gets to this level.

Independent research by the Motoring Industry Research Association (MIRA) has shown that tyres with 3mm of tread have an average 25% better performance than those at 1.6mm - which represents an extra 8 metres of stopping distance in wet conditions!

What causes tyre wear


The typical lifespan of a quality tyre is between three and five years. However, there are many factors that can cause rapid tyre wear, such as:

  • Incorrect tyre pressure. Having over or under inflated tyres can cause uneven tyre tread.
  • Driving style. Accelerating and braking harshly will damage your tyres, and may result in rapid air loss.
  • Overloading. A heavier car can cause your tyres to overheat, increasing the risk of an accident.
  • Alignment. Your tyres will wear unevenly if your wheels are misaligned.

Find out more about the different types of abnormal tyre wear.

How to check your tyre tread depth

You can check how close you are to the legal limit on all tyres by checking the tread wear indicators:

treadwear indicators

These indicators are small raised areas at the bottom of the grooves. Once the surface of the tread rubber is level with these raised areas, the tyre tread depth is approaching the legal limit of 1.6mm and you should have your tyres checked and replaced.

Tyre tread depth checker

If you’re unsure whether your tyre tread depths are at a safe level, you can use a handy tyre tread depth gauge to help. These devices will give you an accurate measurement for that extra peace of mind.

Discover our range of tyre tread depth gauges

Halfords Free Tyre Check

Want help checking your tread depths are at a safe level?

Book a Free Tyre Check and one of our trained technicians will not only check your tyre tread depth but will also carry out a pressure check and inspect for wear and damage.

If any problems are found during the inspection, one of our technicians will advise you on what can be done to correct the issue.

It’s the easiest way to check that your tyres are up to the task!

Book your Free Tyre Check

Find your nearest Halfords autocentre

Replacing tyres

If the tread depth on your tyres is at or below 1.6mm, you will need to replace your tyres – although we’d advise that you change them before they get to this level.

Here at Halfords, we have a wide range of tyres to choose from, with a choice of the best brands. If you’re unsure what tyres are best for your vehicle, our Car Tyres Buyers Guide will help.

We also offer same day fitting in many of our autocentres, and you can find out more here.

Or, why not make life easier and let us come to you? Our Halfords Mobile Experts can change your tyres at home or at work, and at a time that is convenient for you.

So, what are you waiting for? You can book your tyre fitting through our Mobile Experts here.

Explore our range of tyres

For further advice on car tyres, head over to our tyre help and advice page. You can find our full range of tyre and tyre services over at Halfords.com.

Halfords Motoring Club

Did you know that with the Halfords Motoring Club, you can get two free 10 point car checks a year, which includes a tyre depth check? Join the Halfords Motoring Club today to access a range of amazing benefits and discounts that will help to keep you moving, keep you safe and keep you saving.

It’s completely free to become a member and you’ll receive instant benefits worth £35 including £10 off your MOT, a £10 welcome voucher to spend on any Halfords product or service, and a free 10-point car check (worth £15).

Or upgrade to premium membership and enjoy a 5% discount on all motoring products and services throughout the year, as well as exclusive benefits worth over £100! For a one-off payment of just £49 (or £4.99 per month), here’s what you’ll receive:

  • • 5% off member pricing (an always-on, unlimited discount on all motoring products and services online and across our stores, garages and Halfords Mobile Expert)
  • 1 x free MOT at your local Halfords garage (worth £54)
  • 1 x £10 welcome voucher
  • 2 x free 10-point car checks (worth £30)
  • 1 x free fitting for a pair of wiper blades or a pair of bulbs or a battery in our stores
  • Unlimited free next day delivery on all online orders
  • Your personal digital garage, an online hub where you can see your vehicle servicing history, tyre condition and maintenance needs.
  • Dedicated customer support for Motoring Club members

Joining the Halfords Motoring Club is quick and easy. Simply visit www.halfords.com/motoring-club, choose your membership, enter your details and complete your registration.