UK motorists ignore faulty tyres until MOT failure

Mechanic checking a car's tyres

New government figures show that tyre defects account for 27% of all car MoT failures.

Data requested by TyreSafe from the DVSA shows that nearly 2.2 million cars failed their MoT in 2016 as a result of dangerous or illegal tyres.

Of these, 106,000 were failures were cars taking their first MoT, which is required when a car is three years old. This means that 5% of cars fail their first MoT because of tyre defects.

The message — as I’ve written before — is clear. Many UK motorist pay no attention to the condition of their tyres until their car fails its MoT. Most tyre defects are easily visible to the naked eye and don’t require specialist knowledge to recognise. Although the penalty for driving with defective tyres is three penalty points per tyre and a fine of up to £2,500, many motorists appear not to be bothered about the safety implications of defective tyres.

A defective tyre — whether through damage or excessive wear — is more likely to blowout and is likely to perform poorly under heavy braking or in wet or icy conditions. The chances of a crash are higher, which is why we have these safety rules.

4-year MoT seems risky

The context to these figures is that the government is considering extending the age at which cars must be submitted for an MoT to four years. This proposal seems logical, as modern cars are generally safe and more reliable when new than they were when the MoT systems was introducted.

However, it’s clear that there are still weak points such as tyres which are only picked up at MoT time and which have major safety implications. Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, said:

“The existing MoT failure rates are unacceptable as they are and, based on current evidence, it’s reasonable to suggest any extension would only result in more defective tyres on Britain’s roads.”

“…regardless of legislation, drivers individually need to take their responsibilities to road safety seriously and carry out routine checks to stay tyre safe out on the roads. Remember ACT: check tyres’ Air pressure, Condition and Tread depth at least once a month and before long journeys.”

Find out how to check tyre pressures here.

If you’re tempted to try part-worn tyres, find out why we believe this is a dangerous rip off here.

We also have an explanation of tyre sidewall markings (e.g. size, load rating and manufacturing date) here.

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