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The Dangers of Driving on Bald Tyres

driving on bald tyres

Over time, even the most durable tyres will succumb to wear and tear. If worn down severely enough, tyres can become ‘bald’, whereby the tyre tread will become either completely worn away, or very close to it. However, some motorists may be unaware of their deteriorated tyres and their dangers, or simply may not know what signs to look for. 

In this article, we explore the consequences of driving on bald tyres, and how you can avoid making this dangerous mistake. 

Why do people drive on bald tyres? 

For many people, regularly checking their tyres may not be on their to-do list, especially if they aren’t suffering any other noticeable car problems – leading to the issue simply getting missed. We recommend that motorists check tyre pressure and tread depth around once a month – this way, you become more alert to problems as they occur. 

How to check your tread depth

Gradually, our tyre tread, or rubber, becomes worn after years of use. Sometimes this is very visible. Other times, you may be unsure. If left too long, the tread depth can decrease to illegal levels which is anything below 1.6mm. The best way to check that your tread is still at a legally-compliant depth is to take a 20 pence piece and place it in the tread grooves that run vertically on your tyre. If the coin’s outer band is completely hidden during insertion, then it is legal. If any of the band is exposed, then your tyres are illegal. Repeat the test at several points around your tyre to get a more accurate sense of the situation. If you think your tyres are below the legal limit, you should get them replaced immediately, or you may face the following consequences. 

5 consequences and risks of driving on bald tyres 

  • Fine: If you’re discovered driving a vehicle with bald tyres or illegal tread depth, you can face a fine of up to £2500 and three points on your license. What’s more, this is per tyre which means that if all four tyres are in bad shape, it could potentially cost you up to £10,000 and a hefty 12 points on your license.  
  • Increased blow out risk: The rubber tread is designed to protect your tyre from objects on the road that could cause a puncture. When this protective layer is degraded, your tyre will be at higher risk of blowing out, potentially leading to loss of vehicle control and collision – posing a risk not only to yourself and your passengers, but to other road users. 
  • Hydroplaning: Famed for its rainy weather, UK roads can become very wet and sometimes flooded. One purpose of tyre tread grooves is to disperse rain water out from under the tyre to maintain the traction on the road. When tyres become bald, they lose this ability which can result in a car hydroplaning, resulting in loss of traction and loss of vehicle control. 
  • Dangerous in snowy and icy conditions: Similar to above, the primary purpose of tyre tread is to enhance safety through grip. Therefore, using bald tyres on snowy or icy roads can be extremely hazardous. 
  • Affects the efficiency of brakes: Your brakes and tyres are supposed to work in harmony with each other to slow a vehicle or bring it to a gentle stop. When braking, you may find your stopping distance increases with bald tyres. This could be especially dangerous in situations when you need to brake quickly. 


Don’t leave the safety of your vehicle to chance. Here at Tyres Northampton, we provide professional tyre fitting, vehicle servicing and MOT checks to ensure your vehicle is safe and roadworthy. With 25 years’ experience, we can diagnose and resolve any issues with your vehicle, including assessing tyre safety. Don’t hesitate to get in touch or visit us today. 


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