Drivers urged to complete simple checks 'at least once a month' or risk £10,000 fine and licence points

Tyre check

More than half of drivers would 'shy away' from measuring the tread depth

Hemma Visavadia

By Hemma Visavadia

Published: 11/06/2024

- 10:10

Incorrect tyres cost drivers over £112million a year

Drivers have been warned that poor tyre maintenance costs motorists millions of pounds each year in fuel consumption, repairs and fines.

According to new research, underinflated car wheels cost British drivers roughly £112million a year to fix.

Data has estimated that 57 per cent of cars on UK roads have tyre pressures at 10 per cent less than what is recommended by vehicle manufacturers.

This equates to around 19 million cars that have incorrectly inflated tyres on UK roads, causing a risk to both the driver and other motorists.

An MOT tester checking a tyre

Tyres must have a 1.6mm tread depth on all wheels


The Highway Code dictates that tyres must be correctly inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s specification for the load being carried.

They should also be free from certain cuts and other defects, the code details, while they need to have a tread depth of at least 1.6 mm across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference.

Findings by The Motor Ombudsman showed that more than a third of drivers would not feel comfortable topping up the air in their tyres.

Meanwhile, more than half (51 per cent) of drivers would “shy away” from measuring the tread depth to ensure it was above the legal limit of 1.6mm.

Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and managing director of The Motor Ombudsman, explained that under-inflated tyres carry a number ofrisks and costs.

The group highlighted the importance of drivers and vehicle owners caring for their tyres to ensure they are always safe.

Avoiding any unnecessary expense is “especially pertinent with the current financial pressures on the nation’s motorists,” Fennell warned.

Driving with under-inflated tyres can cause braking distances to be longer and make vehicles harder to steer.

Stuart Lovatt, chair at TyreSafe, warned that under-inflation canultimately cost drivers and vehicle owners dearly.

To check tyre pressure, drivers should visit most fuel and service station forecourts, which have an air machine.

If a driver is stopped by the police and found with illegal tyres, they could receive a £2,500 fine and three penalty points per tyre - resulting in a total cost of £10,000.

Sophie Lyden, tyre safety campaigner, and depot manager at Westgate Tyres, added that regardless of the length of journeys being undertaken, whether it is a short commute, or a longer trip away, “drivers should check their tyres at least once a month to ensure that they are safe and legal”.


An image of a mechanic holding a tyre

Drivers could receive a £2,500 fine and three penalty points per incorrect tyre


Lyden commented that making small checks can take a few minutes, but the “repercussions of not giving tyres the due care and attention they deserve, is far more costly in the long run in terms of time and repairs”.

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