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Checking the Tread on Your Tyres

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 18 Feb 2015 | comments*Discuss
Tyre Tread Over-inflation

The law in Great Britain is very specific when it comes to tyres. It's such an important part of car maintenance to ensure that all tyres are in good condition that to drive with defective tyres carries a high penalty; currently a fine of £2,500 and a 3 penalty point endorsement per defective tyre (that's £5,000 and 6 points for 2 defective tyres, and so on).

Many people are caught out every year for simply not knowing that they are breaking the law in relation to the condition of their tyres - but ignorance is not an excuse. It won't stop you from being involved in an accident and it won't stop you from ending up with a hefty fine and penalty points on your licence. As set out in the Road Traffic Act 1988, as the driver of a vehicle it is your responsibility to make sure that it is roadworthy and you are liable to face legal action if you do not do so.

Worn or ‘bald’ tyres are called so because the tyre tread – which helps you to stop quickly in an emergency – has been worn down to an unacceptable level. Sometimes you can tell by looking that a vehicle has ‘bald’ tyres, but on the other hand, it can be really hard to tell just by sight alone – especially if it’s a close call. However if you are stopped by a police officer and your tyre tread is found to be below the legal limit, which for cars in Europe (including the UK) is 1.6mm, then you will face punishment as laid out in the first paragraph of this article – so it’s really worth your while to check your tyres regularly and make sure that they are road-worthy and safe.

How to Check Your Tyre Tread:
All passenger tyres have little bars moulded into the tread called 'tread wear indicator bars'. They can be found in the tread grooves, near the bottom and in several locations on the tyre. If you look for these bars and find that the tyre is worn so that any of them are now lying flush with the tread ribs, then you need to replace your tyre as soon as you can. If you can’t tell, or want a professional opinion, just go to a repair garage, they’ll be happy to help you out and usually will do it for free.

Under-Inflated Tyres:
If there is wear on both edges of the tyre, this means that it is likely that your tyre is under inflated. This reduces the life of the tyre because it wears away the outside edges of the tyre and plays havoc with the tyre durability because the edges get too hot. Having under-inflated tyres also makes your car work harder because it increases the rolling resistance and means you use more fuel than you should do. If you check your tyre pressure and all seems fine, then it might be that the vehicle is misaligned - you will need to take it to a garage to get checked out.

Over Inflated Tyres:
If there is excessive wear and tear in the centre of the tyre, this usually means that the tyre is overinflated as this makes the middle of the tyre load bearing and therefore runs it down faster than the rest of it. Again, this will reduce the life of your tyre and can lead to costly replacements, or worse, being involved in a tyre-related accident. Again, it could be a misalignment issue so if the tyre pressure is ok, get professional advice.

Worn Areas on the Tyre Tread:
Sometimes known as scalloping, dipping or cupping, dips in the tread are usually found on the front tyres, and are a sign that the wheels may not be balanced correctly, or that the steering and suspension systems need to be checked out.

Unbalanced Tyres:
Unbalanced tyres can lead to problems with not only a vehicle's suspension system and tyres, but also to the driver as the constant vibration can lead to fatigue. If you feel any vibration while driving, have your tyre balance checked out as soon as you can.

If You Find a Problem:
If you do find a problem with your tyre - even a puncture, don't panic! It might be possible to save the tyre but you must go to a professional tyre fitter so that they can measure the damage and make sure that it is within the legal guidelines for repairing and replacing tyres.

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@TINAG. Ask the tyre specialist to tell you whether he thinks the misalignment could have occurred recently (i.e. since you purchased it) or whether it's a long standing problem. If the latter, the dealer should have informed you about it at the time of sale. We don't know from your question the age of the car, the mileage, the price you paid for it or the description. These are all relevant in terms of what you might get back from the dealer.
SaferMotoring - 20-Feb-15 @ 2:06 PM
I have bought a used car from the car people and after only 520 miles the front tyres are badly worn on the outside.they are pirelli run flats.The car peoples response was 'pirelli tyres do that'.Can someone confirm this for me as I have also taken the car to a tyre specialist who says that the tyres are out of alignment and balance.Does anyone know if car people are legally liable for this as i have only had the car for 5 and a half weeks
TINAG - 18-Feb-15 @ 8:21 PM
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