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How to: Check if your tyres are safe to drive on

And know the legal limit.
Oct 24th 2016, 2:28 PM 24,866 0

RECENT ANALYSIS CARRIED out by Advance Pitstop shows that an alarming number of vehicles on our roads are driving on seriously dangerous or defective tyres.

The legal minimum tread depth in Europe is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tread width and round its entire circumference.

If your car has worn tyres and you are stopped by a Garda you can get a fixed charge notice of €80 and up to four penalty points if the matter goes to court. Not to mention the serious implications for your (and others’) safety.

Justin Glynn, manager of Advance Pitstop in Dundrum, said Irish drivers are often unaware that they are playing a dangerous game with tyre safety.

In many cases the owner is totally oblivious either to the condition of the tyres or to the potential impact they could have on the safety of their family… It really brings home to me how important it is that drivers take responsibility for checking their tyres on a regular basis.

So, to stay safe and on the right side of the law, here’s how to check the tread depth on your car’s tyres.


The tread is the part of the tyre in contact with the road in normal conditions. You can measure the tread depth using a dedicated tread gauge, which is an easy-to-use handheld tool. Find them here.

The RSA provides a handy guide and cutout gauge to help you measure tread depth. Get it here.

To start, park your car on a flat even surface in a secure spot, turn off the ignition and engage the handbrake.

If you have one of the above mentioned tools, follow the instructions and check the depth in the grooves on several places on the tyre. Measure all four tyres as they all must be roadworthy.


If you don’t have a gauge then you can check tyre tread depth visually. Most tyres have tread wear indicators and when the tread surface has worn away to the same level as the indicators the tyre is at the legal limit and needs to be replaced.

Here’s a useful hack: you can also use a €1 coin to measure tread depth. Simply place the coin into the tyre grooves. If you can see the gold rim it means your tread depth is less than 3mm and you should consider replacing your tyres.

Source: Shutterstock/Juergen Faelchle

As your vehicle’s safety and performance – especially in wet conditions – are reduced as your tyres wear, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) recommends that tyres are changed once the tread reaches 3mm in depth.

If you are concerned, best practice is to take your car into a garage and let an expert check your tyres and advise you properly.

READ: How To: Extend your engine’s life by letting it tick over >

READ: Dear Driver: When to replace my timing belt? >

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Melanie May


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