The step-by-step tyre checking guide

As vehicle owners it can be easy to take our tyres for granted and many of us don’t give these fundamental features the care and attention they deserve. Without tyres our cars simply can’t function and they must be in the best condition to avoid problems and potentially dangerous driving conditions.

To help ensure that your tyres are safe, legal and fit for the road, here we take you through several checks you can carry out yourself.

Check your tread depth

The step-by-step tyre checking guide
The first thing to check is that your tyres have the legal tread depth. This is a minimum of 1.6mm over the centre three quarters of the tread, over the whole circumference of the tyre. You can measure this using a normal ruler, or use a device (see image) that you press into the tyre tread to measure the depth for you.

It is advised that if your tread drops below 3mm you should think about getting your tyres replaced. If the tread is below 1.6mm this is illegal and your tyres must be changed.

Assess the state of your tyres

The step-by-step tyre checking guide
With your depth checked, next you need to look at the overall condition of each tyre. Look for scuffs, bumps and tears on all sides of the tyre wall; use your hand to feel around if necessary. If you find any significant damage, you should get your tyre replaced as these can compromise its structural integrity and, in extreme cases, lead to a blowout.

Also, if you clip a kerb or verge when parking or driving this can knock out your wheel alignment, damage your alloys and unbalance the weight distribution across your wheels. Again, you should take your car to a garage to get this professionally checked.

Ensure your tyres are properly inflated

If your tyres are fit for purpose, you can then check that they’re at the right pressure. You can find this information in a number of places. Firstly, your owner’s manual should tell you what the pressures (in PSI) for your front and rear tyres should be, depending on the size and type of tyre and the passenger load.

In some vehicles this information can be found inside the fuel filler cap, along with other information, such as which type of fuel your vehicle needs.

Get the right pressure

The step-by-step tyre checking guide
Now you know what the pressure should be, you need to check that all your tyres are at the right PSI. There are a couple of ways you can do this: firstly find the valve on your tyre and unscrew the dust cap (see image).

Once you’ve done this, if you have a foot pump with a pressure gauge on it, you need to attach the nozzle on the cord onto the valve and this should show what level the tyre is at. If it’s low, use the foot pump to get it up to the right amount.

Alternatively, you can visit a local petrol station that has an air and water machine and use one of these. In principle, they work in the same way as a foot pump; however, when you attach the machine’s nozzle, this automatically reads the pressure and displays it clearly for you on its screen. You can then have it automatically inflate your tyres to the right pressure at the push of a button.
The step-by-step tyre checking guide
Whichever method you choose, always remember to replace the dust caps on your tyres when you’ve finished inflating them. Also take care not to over-inflate your tyres.

Remain vigilant

The final step you need to take is to remain vigilant and keep checking your tyres regularly. Overall, having properly maintained tyres helps you to be safe and will keep you on the right side of the law, as the police can issue fines and points for defective tyres.

So, if you’ve yet to assess your tyres, use this advice and get them all checked today. AA Tyres offers a free mobile tyre fitting service at your home or work – find out more here:


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