The tyres on your vehicle should be checked regularly, a illegal tyre can mean a fine and three points on your driving license.


tyre markings

There are various markings around a tyre, such as 205/55/R16W

The 205 indicate the overall width of the tyre in mm The 55 indicate the ‘profile’. The height of the tyre from the wheel rim to the tread is 55% of the width The R indicates it is a radial tyre. This is the construction of the tyre, all modern tyres are radial.

The 16, indicates the diameter of the wheel rim the tyre is fitted too. The letter at the end is the speed rating of the tyre, generally from around S to ZR. This tells you the maximum continuous speed the tyre is rated for at full load.

The load index is also given on tyres, this indicates the maximum load that tyres is capable of carrying. They are generally codes consisting of two numbers, or a combination of a number and letter , but commonly given a rating in KG as well now.

Tyre pressure

tyre pressure label

Tyre pressures are very important for various reasons, one of the most important is safety, but running under or over inflated tyres can dramatically alter the handling of the vehicle. Keeping them at the correct level also reduces uneven tread wear, and helps to avoid wasting fuel. There are various ways to pump up your tyres, but one of the easiest is to call into a petrol station with a tyre inflator. Many vehicles have a sticker inside the drivers door reveal or on the inside of the fuel filler flap indicating the correct pressures. Some garages also have charts you can use.

Simple gauges are available for only a few pounds, often in sets with tread depth gauges. If you find yourself having to pump one of them up quite often, you may well have a slow puncture or leaking valve. Get it checked by a tyre centre as soon as possible. Not all punctures are repairable, especially if its it near the side of the tyre. Its also not often worth it if the tread is getting low. A good tyre centre should advise you of which is best, but if you in any doubt, don’t be afraid to question them.

Tyre treads

tyre treads

As with driving with incorrect tyre pressure, worn treads will alter the handling and safety of your vehicle. Many tyres have depth markers between the tread, if your close to them its time for a new one. Simple gauges are available for only a few pounds, often in sets with pressure gauges. Tyres should be regularly inspected, both for amount of remaining tread, and also look for anything else such as bulges in the side wall, or any cuts.

The legal requirements for tyre treads, is to have a minimum depth of 1.6mm across at least 75%. If you are found to have illegal tyres, you can be issued with up to a £2500 fine along with 3 points, per tyre and have to re-MOT your vehicle. If you do buy a pair of new tyres, its good practice to have them fitted onto the rear of the car.

Article written by Hitch