Dangerous illegal tyres: Nearly 10m cars could pose a safety threat

Dangerous illegal tyres

A bulge like this in a tyre is illegal and could cause a dangerous blow out

Millions of drivers are taking to the road with dangerous illegal tyres. A new survey suggests that one in four cars and light commercial vehicles on Britain’s roads will have an illegal tyre at some point during 2015. With 35.3 million vehicles on our roads that means nearly 10m could have dangerous illegal tyres. Here’s what you should look out for to prevent becoming one of them. 

Dangerous illegal tyres: How often should you check?

Experts claim drivers should inspect their tyres, including checking their pressure at least once a fortnight. In an ideal world, that would be once a week and at the very least, once a month. Road safety charity TyreSafe says drivers should remember ACT: Air pressure; Condition; Tread depth.

Click here to see our expert’s tips on caring for your tyres

Dangerous illegal tyres: What makes tyres illegal?

A tyre’s tread depth is the distance from its outer surface (the part that comes into contact with the road) to the bottom of the grooves that run round it. This depth starts off at 8mm on a new tyre and should measure at least 1.6mm for the tyre to be legal. Tyres will also fail an MOT test and be deemed outside the law if they have splits, lumps or bulges in them. The penalty for having an illegal tyre is three points on your licence per dodgy tyre and a possible fine of £2500.

Dangerous illegal tyres

In extreme cases some illegal tyres are worn to their canvas carcass

Dangerous illegal tyres: Why having legal tyres is so important

Tread depth plays a decisive factor in braking and steering, especially on a wet surface. Research by the British Tyre Manufacturers’ Association has shown that the braking distance from 50mph to a standstill increases by more than the length of a full-sized shipping container on worn rather than new tyres.

Dangerous illegal tyres: How do we know so many are dangerous?

Road safety charity TyreSafe, in partnership with Highways England, examined the tread depth of all the tyres that were replaced in what they claim to be the most comprehensive survey of Britain’s tyre industry. They claim that one in four vehicles had at least one illegal or dangerous tyre on it. The study also found that more than a third of all tyres surveyed were close to the legal limit with just 0.4mm of tread left before becoming illegal.

Dangerous illegal tyres: What the experts say

Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe said: “Awareness among Britain’s motorists of the importance of tyre safety urgently needs to improve. We don’t believe millions of drivers are intentionally putting others at risk. It is more a question of educating motorists to take responsibility for their safety and that of others on the road. As vehicles have become increasingly reliable, owners have become less used to performing what were once considered basic precautionary checks before setting off on a journey. Tyres too are much more technically advanced but they do wear and can get damaged so it is down to the driver to regularly check they’re safe.”

Dangerous illegal tyres: What are the other costs?

A tyre that’s under pressure doesn’t last as long as one that’s properly inflated. An under inflated tyre can also overheat at speed and blow out. And it will reduce fuel economy because there’s more tyre on the road which increases friction between the car and the tarmac. Damage to a tyre such as a cut or bulge is the sign of a weakness or failure in the tyre’s structure. This can lead to a blow out when the tyre is put under stress.

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