Minimum tyre tread depths
The minimum tread depth is a minimum legal requirement for the vehicle to be roadworthy, and should be treated as such.
Summer tyres for vehicles designed to travel at over 25 km/h, and with a maximum permitted total (laden) weight of up to 3.5 t (e.g. cars, lorries up to 3.5 t and motorcycles) must have a minimum tread depth of at least 1.6 mm. The same applies for trailers of up to 3.5 t if they are allowed to be towed at over 25 km/h.
Summer tyres for lorries over 3.5 t and trailers over 3.5 t must have a minimum tread depth of 2 mm.
For mopeds and scooters the minimum tread depth is 1 mm.
Radial-ply winter tyres (the most common type) used on cars and lorries up to a maximum total (laden) weight of 3.5 t must have a tread depth of at least 4 mm. The minimum tread depth for diagonal-ply winter tyres is 4 mm. The same minimum depths apply to "all-year-round" tyres, as well as to "all-weather" tyres designed for use as snow/sludge or snow/sludge/ice tyres (marked "M + S", "M.S." or "M & S") and to studded tyres. Alongside the "M + S", "M.S." or "M & S" markings, winter tyres may also carry a snowflake symbol, or the snowflake symbol may be used without the other markings.
Winter tyres for lorries weighing over 3.5 t must have a minimum tread depth of 5 mm for radial-ply tyres or 6 mm for diagonal-ply tyres.
Winter tyres that no longer meet these requirements but do have a tread depth above the legal minimum for summer tyres can usually be used as summer tyres. However, in the interests of road safety, it is recommended that motorists ensure their vehicles are fitted with appropriate tyres for the time of year.
When inspected with the naked eye, tyres must not show any tears extending down to the carcass of the tyre or delaminations on the tread blocks or sidewalls.
Tyres used on cars (including estate cars) must be equipped with 'indicators'. These indicators are designed to show whether the tyre meets the minimum tread depth of 1.6 mm.
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