Tyre tread depth is an integral part of being a responsible driver on our roads and something all drivers should take seriously. Because it isn’t the first thing you would think about before driving, it helps to be more conscious of why tyre tread depth matters and how to know if you should get your tyres checked.
In today’s blog, we will discuss some of the most common questions on the topic, which can hopefully help you (and other drivers) understand this vital aspect of driving safely.
What is the legal tyre tread depth in Ireland?
Remember that the legal depth refers to the minimum depth you can have on a tyre. For cars in Ireland, wheels must have a tread depth minimum of 1.6mm. This limit also applies to drivers taking a vehicle by ferry in the UK and mainland Europe. If this is something you’re planning for, The AA recommends you learn more about European breakdown cover.
Why does tyre tread depth matter?
Responsible drivers are aware drivers. When reaction time is key to safe driving, you cannot have your vehicle let you down. Tyre tread depth minimums are in place to help improve braking distances. The better condition your tread is in, the more traction tyres have against the road to slow down.
Is there a tread depth that indicates wear or tear on tyres?
Your tyres will wear down over time. This is entirely normal. It is also normal to highlight if tyres are close to the minimum when getting serviced, so don’t be surprised or feel you’re being led on if a mechanic/garage highlights that tyres are sitting around or just under 3mm. It’s also good to note that brand-new tyres start with a tread between 8 and 10 mm to give an idea of how much tyres can wear down.
How is tyre tread measured?
Tread measurement can be confusing if you don’t know what to look at or have been left with more questions after hearing about “three-quarter tread”. Simply put, your tread depth is measured from the central three-quarters of a tyre. While the pattern of your tyre may reach or extend to the edge of the tyre, as long as the central three-quarters are within the required depth, your tyre is OK.
Is there an easy way of knowing if my tyre is wearing out?
It won’t be a definite indicator, but a good test to let you know if you should have a mechanic/tyre centre look at tyres is to take a €1 coin to cold tyres. Place the coin inside of the tread around the tyre in different parts you’re concerned about. If you can see the inner circle of the coin easily, your tyres need checking.
Are there visible signs my tyre tread has issues?
A visible sign would be a loss of pattern on the tyre. If you notice patches where your tread pattern is worn down or can’t see a pattern in parts, the tyres need checking. For assistance with general car maintenance and checks, you may be interested in learning about AA Car Servicing options from local garages.
What happens if I don’t replace worn tyres?
Not only are you being an irresponsible driver, but worn tyres are an offence. The RSA points out that drivers caught with worn tread can “attract a fine of €80 and up to four penalty points upon conviction” (source)
Learn more about your car tyres
If this post has inspired you to start paying more attention to your tyres, we recommend the following blog posts and guides as resources: