According to the DVSA, 10% of cars in the UK failed their MOT in 2022 due to tyre-related issues. This alarming statistic highlights the importance of keeping your tyres in good condition, and knowing the minimum tyre depth for MOT.

There’s no denying that tyres are one of the most critical components of any vehicle as they provide the necessary grip and traction, helping you maintain control over your vehicle while driving. Their condition plays a significant role in road safety and also for passing the MOT. In this article, we take a closer look a the minimum tyre depth for MOT, how to make your tyres last longer, the risks of part-worn tyres and tips on passing your MOT the first time.

What Is The Minimum Tyre Depth for MOT?


Although the minimum tyre depth for MOT is 1.6mm across three-quarters of the tread, it is advisable that you replace your tyres before they reach this limit. It applies to cars, motorcycles and light commercial vehicles with a gross weight no greater than 3,500kg. In fact, some experts suggest replacing tyres when the tread depth is 2.5mm or 3mm.

How To Check Your Tyre Tread Depth

Checking your tyre tread depth is a simple task that can be done at home. All you need is a tread depth gauge, which is simple to use and available at most auto parts stores or online at Amazon, for example. If you don’t have a tread depth gauge, you can also use the 20p test, which is a quick and easy way to check your tyre tread depth.

To perform the 20p test, take a 20p coin and insert it into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If you can see the outer rim of the coin, your tyre tread depth is below the legal limit, and it’s time to replace your tyres.

A third way to check the tyre depth is to look at the tyre manufacturers’ tread wear indicators which are moulded into the tread grooves. If you can see them, you need to replace your tyres.

How Do I Make My Tyres Last Longer?

There are several simple steps you can take to make your tyres last longer and reduce the risk of a tyre-related failure during an MOT, including the following:

  • Ensure that your tyres are always inflated to their recommended pressure levels. If they’re over or under-inflated, it affects the amount of contact the tyre has with the road, which in turn affects their grip.
  • It’s also important to ensure that your wheels are aligned and balanced, as this reduces wear and tear on your tyres.
  • When replacing tyres, opt for a good quality brand and avoid part-worn tyres. The risks associated with part-worn tyres far outweigh the savings, and they may not be up to MOT standards.

What Are The Risks of Part-Worn Tyres?

Part-worn tyres may look like a good deal on the surface, but there are several risks associated with using them. For starters, part-worn tyres have been used before and may have hidden damage that you can’t easily see. They may also not meet the minimum tyre depth for MOT tests and can compromise your safety on the road.

Driving on worn-out tyres is dangerous, and it can result in loss of control, especially on wet and slippery roads. In addition, driving on worn-out tyres can also result in hefty fines and penalty points on your driving license.

Although part-worn tyres are often cheaper than new ones, it’s best to avoid them and invest in high-quality new tyres that will provide a secure grip and traction on the road. The truth is, part-worn tyres offer a false economy and may not be as safe as you think.

Regular Checks And Tyre Depth For MOT Tests

Regular checks are vital to ensure that your tyres are in good condition and meet the minimum tyre depth for MOT tests. It’s recommended that you check your tyre pressure and tread depth every month, and before long journeys and before an MOT. This includes checking your tyres for any signs of damage, such as cuts, bulges, or punctures as tyre-related issues are one of the most common reasons for an MOT failure (DVSA).

Tips For Passing Your MOT The First Time

Failing your car’s MOT test can be frustrating, but the good news is that many of the reasons for failing are often related to minor faults that can be fixed beforehand. By carrying out a few basic checks, including your tyre depth for MOT, you can avoid the most common issues and increase your chances of passing.

  • Check that all the lights are working, including headlights, indicators, fog lamps, brake lights, and hazards and the warning lights on the dashboard
  • Test your brakes, handbrake, and steering wheel to confirm that they are working as they should as faulty brakes or steering issues can result in a failed MOT test.
  • Make sure all your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure. This can be found in your vehicle owner’s manual, inside the driver’s door pillar or often on the tyre label.
  • Check that your tyre depth for MOT is at least 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre.
  • Remove all stickers in the driver’s view and check the wiper blades for damage and that the mirrors are intact.
  • The VIN number (Vehicle Identification Number) must match your car’s logbook (V5C registration certificate).
  • Registration plates should be in good condition, clear, and easy to read.
  • If you have personalised number plates, they should still meet the DVLA’s standards.
  • Check that there is no damage to the filler cap and the seal.
  • Always check the horn to make sure it’s loud and clear.
  • Clean your car before the MOT as testers can refuse to inspect a cluttered and dirty car.

Also Read: What Happens After My MOT?

What Tyre Damage Will Fail An MOT?

Maintaining good tyre condition is crucial for road safety, and any damage to the tyres could result in an MOT failure. The following are some of the tyre damages that could cause your car to fail its MOT:

  • Insufficient tyre depth for MOT of less than 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre’s tread
  • Any cuts, bulges, or lumps on the sidewall or tread of the tyre could result in an MOT failure as they make tyres more susceptible to punctures and blowouts
  • Exposed cords or wires indicate that the tyres are a significant risk to road safety
  • Tyres that show uneven wear patterns can result in an MOT failure which can also indicate misaligned wheels or an issue with the suspension system
  • Valve stems that are missing, damaged, or have cracks can result in air leaks, leading to underinflated tyres
  • Tyres that are not the correct size or type for your vehicle can result in an MOT failure

Conclusion: Tyre Depth For MOT And Vehicle Maintenance

Ensuring that your vehicle’s tyres are in good condition is essential for your safety on the road. The minimum tyre depth for MOT is a crucial aspect that must be taken seriously to ensure that your vehicle is safe and roadworthy. Driving on quality tyres, checking your tyre tread depth regularly, and performing regular checks can help you pass your MOT and keep you safe on the road.

Elite Garages is one of the leading independent tyre, MOT, car service and forecourt operators with 16 branches in the south and south-east of England. We provide quality services you’d come to expect from a family-owned and managed company offering greater value and no hidden costs.

Whether you have questions about tyre depth for MOT, what’s included in a car service or which tyre brand is best for you car, contact your nearest Elite Garages branch today! Our professional, experienced and friendly staff members are here to help.


Click the + to read any answer or visit our most FAQ page to review the most frequently asked questions across all our Elite Locations.

If you click on a ‘Category’ or ‘Tag’ link, the page will ‘refresh’ and reload the page showing the top of the page first, you’ll then just need to scroll down to the FAQ section to see the results for the Category or Tag you selected.

Category: tyre tips

For the most optimal driving experience, good ride comfort and traction, experts suggest changing all four tyres at the same time. However, in certain cases, you may be able to get away with just replacing one tyre but when you do, make sure it matches the other three tyres in terms of size and type.

Category: tyre tips

Apart from the legal tread depth limit of 1.6mm, other specific tyre requirements that must be met for the MOT test include the following:

  • Tyre condition: Tyres must be in good condition, with no cuts, bulges, or lumps on the sidewall or tread.
  • Tyre pressure: Tyres must be inflated to the correct pressure, as specified by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • Type and size: Tyres must be the correct size and type for the vehicle, as specified in the vehicle handbook.
  • Tyre speed rating: The speed rating of the tyres must be equal to or greater than the maximum speed of the vehicle.
  • Tyre load capacity: Tyres must have a load capacity that is equal to or greater than the maximum weight of the vehicle.
Category: tyre tips

In the UK, the legal minimum tyre tread depth for a car to pass its MOT is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre’s tread. Any tread depth below this limit is considered unsafe and illegal, resulting in an MOT failure.

Category: tyre tips

While the minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6 mm, many experts recommend replacing your tyres when the tread depth reaches 3mm and no less than 2mm. This can help to maintain better grip, stability and braking performance in all weather conditions.