Adequate tread depth is essential for safe driving on wet roads as the tread grooves help to remove water from the contact patch between the tyre and the road surface, which is essential for effective acceleration, cornering and braking. A tyre with lower tread depth is less effective at removing water from the road, leading to longer stopping distances and reduced road safety. Indeed, according to tests conducted by the British Tyre Manufacturers' Association, braking distance in wet weather of a tyre with only 1.6mm of tread depth is almost 12m longer than a new tyre from 50mph.
Tyres are complex engineered products so it is not just their outer visual condition that affects road safety. A tyre is a high tech piece of equipment consisting of 30 different components which must all be in good condition to ensure your safety. Running tyres under-inflated or even hitting a pothole or kerb can cause serious damage to internal components of a tyre. As part worn tyres are not required to be examined by x-ray for internal structural defects prior to their sale, it can be impossible to determine if any internal damage exists and the safety of the tyre has been compromised.
Under The Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994 (reg.7.) part of the Consumer Protection Act, it is an offence for anyone to sell part worn tyres that do not meet the following principal requirements:
- The structural integrity must not be compromised. It should be free of large cuts, any bulges or lumps both internally and externally. No plies or cords should be exposed.
- Tyres must have passed an inflation test prior to sale.
- The original grooves must still be clearly visible in their entirety and must be to a depth of at least 2mm across the full breadth of the tread, around its entire circumference.
- Part worn tyres which have not been retreaded must clearly show the relevant 'E' mark alongside which 'PART-WORN' must be permanently and legibly applied in letters at least 4mm high. These words cannot be hot branded or cut into the tyre.
- Part-worn tyres that have been retreaded must have one of the following:
- BS AU 144b, 144c, 144d, or 144e markings on the side wall (if first supplied as a retread on or before 31 December 2003 an ECE approval mark (if first supplied as a retread on or after 1 January 2004)
- a permanent mark to identify the original model and manufacturer, the word 'RETREAD' moulded onto or into its sidewall (in upper case letters at least 4mm high) and further markings in accordance with ECE rules. You may need to seek further advice as to which rules apply
- The indication 'PART WORN' must also appear next to the BS or ECE approval mark, or next to the word 'RETREAD'
- For tyres marked BS AU 144e, a speed category symbol and load capacity marking should be present.
- A tyre has to comply with all these requirements whether or not it is fitted to a rim.
Don’t take your tyres for granted – drop into your local Fast Fit.