One in five cars is fitted with “dangerous” tyres, new study warns

Vehicle spot check found 21 per cent with at least one tyre that needed replacing

One in five cars is fitted with “dangerous” tyres, new study warns
It's thought some eight million vehicles have potentially dangerous rubber on our roads.

One in five cars on UK roads have “dangerous” tyres fitted to them, according to new research.

A study by comparison website conducted 1,000 vehicle spot checks across the country and found that 21 per cent had at least one tyre that need to be replaced.

A further three per cent – representative of 1.4 million – were found to be running on illegal tyres that could land them with a fine in excess of £2,500 and three penalty points.

Researchers scrutinised car tyres and measured the tread depth in the remaining rubber on cars in ten major UK cities.

The fifth deemed as ‘dangerous’ were those with a tyre with tread below 3mm, while those deemed illegal were found to have less tread depth than the legal limit of 1.6mm.

Tyre tread ignorance

When the website surveyed 2,000 motorists, 61 per cent didn’t know the minimum tread depth required by law.

Even if drivers do know that their tyres are deemed legally unfit for the road, 55 per cent said they didn’t know how to check if they were roadworthy or not.

It also means many drivers are risking road safety and fines in excess of £2,500 per tyre if they’re caught by police using balding rubber.

They could also receive three penalty points per illegal tyre, which would could lead to a loss of licence and drive insurance premiums higher.

MOT inspection

According to the latest data, tyre issues are the fourth most common reason for vehicles failing an MOT inspection, with 7.7 per cent of all vehicles last year failing for illegal tread depth or rubber that was deemed unfit for use.

The investigation also identified which cities it found the highest percentage of dangerous tyres.

Vehicles in Edinburgh had the highest number of cars fitted with tyres below the recommended tread of 3mm (27 per cent), while motorists in Newcastle and Ipswich had the highest rate of illegal tyres, both with an average of five per cent.

London drivers are the most diligent, according to the research, with just 16 per cent of vehicles fitted with dangerous rubber.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at, said: “Tyre tread ignorance could land offenders with fines of up to £2,500 per tyre, invalidate their insurance or lead to an accident.

“By conducting a few simple checks each month, such as the 20p test, drivers can keep themselves and other motorists safe.

“Driving has become expensive enough as it is, and avoiding unwanted fines should be incentive enough to comply with road safety regulations.”

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