Checking the depth of your tyre tread may seem like a laborious and unnecessary part of car maintenance, but in truth, this job is imperative to ensure your safety while on the road.
What is tyre tread?
Road tyres have grooved patterns to displace water between them and the road, keeping your car in a straight line by maintaining grip and friction between the two.
If too much water builds up on the tyre's surface, it will break traction between the car and the road, causing the vehicle to aquaplane (a dangerous skidding motion during which the driver has no control over the car’s direction).
Tyre tread allows water to gather up within the grooves of the tyre, rather than the area contacting the road, and remove it once the tyre rotates.
The legal bit
Over time, tyres will wear away on the surface, reducing the tread depth until there is practically none left. To have no tread on your tyres is incredibly dangerous - and illegal.
It is UK law for road tyres to have at least 1.6mm of tyre tread across the central three-quarters of the tyre - consistent across its complete circumference - to be legal.
If you are caught out by the cops with ‘balding’ tyres beneath the 1.6mm limit, you can expect a healthy fine – up to £2,500 – and three points on your license, per tyre.
To read more on the laws of road tyre tread depth, click here.
Keep the Police off your back, your license free from points and your car on the road, with a tyre tread depth gauge.
These handy gadgets will accurately inform you of the tread depth left on your car’s tyres, indicating whether you’re safe to set off or need to pay a visit to the garage. To maximise your safety, we recommend checking every couple of weeks.
Not sure which is right for you? Here are a few of our suggestions.
Goodyear Tyre Tread Depth Gauge
Goodyear is a global tyre brand representing innovation and experience, having produced quality products for over 120 years. This digital tyre depth gauge continues the legacy with its ultra-accurate depth readings for MOT compliance.
The body of the gadget houses a small LCD display which clearly indicates the depth of tread left on the tyre – especially useful in low-light conditions. To use, reset the gauge with the Zero button and place the winged side against the surface of the tyre - then press in with the blue Goodyear tab. Doing so will press the needle into the tread gap and its depth will then appear on the LCD screen.
• Very simple to use
• Clear reading on the display
• Requires batteries to operate
Godeson Tyre Tread Depth Gauge
This tyre tread depth gauge indicates the depth and safety of of the remaining tread by pushing a needle into it, indicating the depth of travel through a colour coded bar on the exterior. This gauge is thin, light and extremely portable - perfect for storing comfortably in a glovebox without taking up too much room. If you're on a budget, this is the ultra-affordable option at just under £4.
This gauge is suitable for use on all vehicle tyres, including cars, trucks and motorbikes.
• Lightweight and portable
• Requires no batteries
• May not be as accurate as digital options
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Draper Tyre Tread Depth Gauge
High build quality
This tyre tread depth gauge from Draper is another digital offering, with an ON/OFF button, reset button and switch button to choose between inches and millimetres on the casing. However, what separates this product from the other digital gauges on this list is the build quality.
Unlike the many other options we've listed, this digital depth gauge is finished in stainless steel and industrial plastic for premium durability. The metal casing grants this product strength under stress or after several years of wear – perfect for a damage-prone environment like a garage.
• High build quality
• Accurate readings
• Build quality is reflected in a higher price tag
Godeson Dial Tyre Tread Depth Gauge
This tyre depth gauge from Godeson sports a dial gauge for clear and precise tread depth readings without the need for a battery. The dial is cased in sturdy blue zinc for durability and dependability over time.
To use, place the flat edge of the dial over the surface of the tyre and press down on the chrome-plated probe. This will extend the needle to indicate the total depth of the tread on the dial. The dial is colour coded in green, amber and red to indicate how safe the tyres are, as well as the accurate millimetric depth.
• Easy to use
• Does not require a battery
• Readings will likely not be as accurate as they might be with a digital gauge
Hazet Tyre Tread Depth Gauge
Simple yet effective design
For pure simplicity, this tread depth gauge from Hazet is as straightforward as they come. The German-made product offers a glare-free reading by pushing the probe out of its case and into the tread groove.
The gauge is easy to handle and robust by virtue of its hard brass casing, with a max measuring depth of 30mm. While this product can be used on any tyre and without a battery, the long design of the probe may prove inconvenient in manoeuvrability.
• Simple design
• Easy to use
• Long probe may be inconvenient
• Cheaper products may give a more accurate reading