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Britain’s Tyres Have Never Been So Bald Says Halfords

The number of vehicles with tyres below or on the borderline of the legal minimum tread depth has leapt by 71 per cent, Halfords revealed today.

The company, which sees about ten million vehicles a year for servicing and MOTs, compared tyre tread depth data from April 2023 with April last year. The analysis suggests that almost one in seven vehicles on UK roads now has illegal or near illegal tyres, up from one in eleven last year.

Halfords’ data is based on tyre tread depth readings taken on almost 235,000 vehicles in April 2022 and April 2023. The number of vehicles with red advisories, meaning the tyre tread depth is 2.0mm or below,  increased from 3.8 per cent to 6.5 per cent, while the number with amber advisories, meaning tread depth is between 2.1mm and 3.0mm, increased from 7 per cent to 7.8 per cent.

If Halfords’ figures are representative of the total UK car parc, there are over 4.2 million vehicles on UK roads with tyres that are either illegal or likely to become illegal in the next few months.

The legal minimum tread depth for car tyres in the UK is 1.6mm across the breadth of the tread. Low tread tyres are more susceptible to punctures and blowouts and have a detrimental effect on fuel economy, braking and steering.

Graham Stapleton, Chief Executive of Halfords, believes Britain’s tyres have never been more worn, thanks to a double whammy of potholes and postponement.

“There’s a perfect storm of increasingly poorly maintained roads, caused by the squeeze on public finances, and increasingly worn tyres, caused by the squeeze on people’s pockets,” he said. “Now more than ever we need to make it affordable for people to stay safe.”

Two in three motorists say the cost-of-living crisis has made them more likely to delay changing their tyres (1) .

In a first for the automotive industry, and as part of its commitment to road safety, Halfords will replace tyres now and allow motorists to defer almost all of the cost until 2024, interest free (2).

“Millions of families are struggling with day-to-day finances at present,” said Graham Stapleton. “That’s why we’re helping people stay safe now and kick the cost into next year. It’s part of our broader commitment to customers, which includes a pledge never to be beaten on price for fitted tyres and a range of money saving offers to members of the Halfords Motoring Club.

“The most recent government data (3) shows that every seven hours there is an accident caused by defective tyres and brakes,” said Graham Stapleton, “and that’s likely to have got worse in the past year. We need urgent action to keep people safe.”

According to the World Economic Forum (4) the UK has one of the worst quality road surfaces in Europe, worse than Cyprus and only marginally better than Lithuania.

Meanwhile, the asphalt industry association says that local authorities in England and Wales only received around two-thirds of what they need to stop local roads from further deterioration last year (5) . More than £14 billion is now needed to fix the backlog of carriageway repairs it says.

  1. Research carried out by Mortar research 29-31 March 2023 amongst 2,050 UK drivers with access to a vehicle.
  2. Buy now, repay in 2024 with 0% APR on spends of £99 or more. Pay 15% then nothing for 7 months. This deal is available at Halfords Autocentres and also online at National Tyres And Autocare
  3. RAS0701: Reported road collisions and casualties contributory factors by severity and road user type, Great Britain, ten years up to 2021
  4. World Economic Forum
  5. ALARM