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7 top taxi tyre questions answered: Should I use seasonal tyres and why are my tyres wearing fast?



There are several reason why it’s important to check your taxi tyres. Safety, legal requirements and fuel efficiency are just a few.


In this article we explore in depth what cabbies should be doing with their tyres throughout the year.

What is the legal requirement for car tyres in the UK?


In the UK, the law requires that car tyres must be:


  • Of the correct size for the vehicle

  • In good condition, with sufficient tread depth

  • Free from cuts, bulges, and other defects.


The minimum tread depth for car tyres in the UK is 1.6mm, across the central three-quarters of the tread around the entire tyre. It's important to note that this is the legal minimum, and many experts recommend changing your tyres before they reach this tread depth to ensure optimal performance and safety.


It's also worth noting that the law requires that all tyres fitted to a vehicle must be of the same size and type (e.g. all four tyres must be the same size and must be either summer tyres or winter tyres).

If you're unsure whether your tyres meet these requirements, it's a good idea to have them inspected by a tyre specialist or a mechanic. It's also a good idea to check your tyre tread depth regularly and to replace your tyres as needed to ensure that your vehicle is safe to drive.


Are taxi tyres different to car tyres?


There are no specific tyre requirements for taxis in the UK beyond the general requirements that apply to all vehicles. This means that taxi tyres must be of the correct size for the vehicle, in good condition, and with sufficient tread depth. They must also be free from cuts, bulges, and other defects.


It's worth noting that taxis may be subject to additional requirements depending on the local authority that licenses them. For example, some local authorities may require taxis to have special tyre markings or to meet specific tyre performance standards.


In general, however, there is no difference between the tyres used on taxis and those used on other vehicles in the UK. It's important for all vehicle owners, including taxi drivers, to ensure that their tyres are in good condition and meet the legal requirements to ensure the safety of their vehicle and its passengers.

What is the penalty for illegal tyres?

In the UK, if you are found to be driving with illegal tyres (e.g. tyres that do not meet the legal requirements), you may face a fine of up to £2,500 and three points on your licence for each illegal tyre. If you are taken to court, you may be fined up to £10,000 and receive up to nine points on your licence for each tyre.


It's important to note that driving with illegal tyres can be extremely dangerous, as it can affect the performance and handling of your vehicle. If you are involved in an accident while driving with illegal tyres, you may also be found to be at fault and may face additional penalties.


To avoid these penalties and ensure the safety of your vehicle, it's important to regularly check your tyre tread depth and condition and to replace your tyres as needed.


What are the dangers of using tyres with low tread or grip?


Using tyres with low tread depth can be dangerous for a number of reasons. Here are a few of the main dangers:


  • Reduced grip: As the tread on a tyre wears down, it becomes less effective at gripping the road, which can make it harder to control your vehicle and increase the risk of accidents.

  • Increased braking distance: Tyres with low tread depth may also have a longer braking distance, as they are less able to grip the road and bring the vehicle to a stop.

  • Hydroplaning: Low tread depth can also increase the risk of hydroplaning, especially in wet conditions. Hydroplaning occurs when a thin layer of water on the road separates the tyre from the road surface, causing the vehicle to lose traction and potentially lose control.

  • Punctures: Tyres with low tread depth are also more prone to punctures, as they are more likely to come into contact with sharp objects on the road.


It's important to note that these dangers are not limited to the wet season, but can occur at any time of year.


How can I check my tyre tread depth?

There are a few different ways you can check the tread depth of your tyres in the UK:


  1. Use a tread depth gauge: These are small, inexpensive tools that you can use to measure the tread depth of your tyres. To use one, simply insert the gauge into the tread groove and read the measurement on the gauge.

  2. Use a 20p coin: The tread depth of your tyre is considered to be at the legal minimum if the tread is level with the outer band of the 20p coin. To check your tyre tread depth using a 20p coin, place the coin in the tread groove with the outer band visible. If the outer band is level with the tread, the tread depth is at or below the legal minimum.

  3. Look for the tread wear indicators: Most tyres have small bars or raised sections around the circumference of the tyre called tread wear indicators. These are designed to let you know when the tyre tread has worn down to the legal minimum. If the tread is level with one of these indicators, it's time to replace the tyre.


Regardless of which method you use, it's important to check the tread depth on all four tyres, as well as the spare tyre if you have one. It's also a good idea to check the tyre tread depth regularly and to replace your tyres as needed to ensure the safety of your vehicle.


Should I change to seasonal tyres?


Whether or not you should change to winter tyres in the UK depends on a number of factors, including the type of vehicle you drive, the conditions you typically encounter, and your personal driving habits.

Winter tyres are designed to provide better traction, braking, and handling in cold, wet, and snowy conditions. They are made from a softer compound that remains flexible at low temperatures and has more grooves and sipes (small slits) to help disperse water and snow.


If you live in an area that experiences cold, wet, and/or snowy conditions during the winter months and you frequently drive in these conditions, winter tyres may be a good choice for you. They can help to improve the safety and performance of your vehicle in winter weather.


It's worth noting that winter tyres are not mandatory in the UK, and many drivers choose to use all-season tyres instead. All-season tyres are a compromise between summer and winter tyres, and are designed to provide good performance in a variety of weather conditions. However, they may not perform as well as dedicated winter tyres in extremely cold and snowy conditions.


Ultimately, the decision of whether to use winter tyres or all-season tyres (or summer tyres) depends on your specific driving needs and the conditions you encounter.

Why are my tyres wearing out so fast?


There are several possible reasons why your tyres might be wearing fast:


  1. Incorrect tyre pressure: If your tyre pressure is too high or too low, it can cause your tyres to wear unevenly and more quickly. It's important to check your tyre pressure regularly and to keep it at the recommended level for your vehicle.

  2. Overloading: Carrying too much weight in your vehicle can cause your tyres to wear more quickly, especially if you regularly drive with a full load.

  3. Misalignment: If your vehicle's wheels are misaligned, it can cause your tyres to wear unevenly and more quickly. Misalignment can be caused by a variety of factors, including hitting a pothole or curb, or simply wearing down over time.

  4. Poor road conditions: Driving on rough or damaged roads can also cause your tyres to wear more quickly.

  5. Aggressive driving: Hard acceleration, braking, and cornering can all cause your tyres to wear more quickly.


If you're concerned about the rate at which your tyres are wearing, it's a good idea to have them inspected by a tyre specialist or a mechanic. They can help to determine the cause of the problem and recommend any necessary repairs or replacements.

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