Car tyres: everything you need to know

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Tyres might seem like a no-fuss necessity for your car, but they can be one of the most important parts of your vehicle.

Buying new tyres can be confusing, and ensuring you have the right ones is essential for your safety, your car’s performance and can even save you money in the long run.

Read on to find out how to make sure you buy the right tyres for your car.

What different types of tyre are there?

There are many different types of car tyre available on the market, so in order to decide which you would like to buy it’s important to consider the type of driving you are going to be undertaking, and how often you will be doing it. But what are the options?

Summer tyre

These tyres are perfect for use from spring through to the end of Summer. In fact, it is generally agreed that summer tyres should be installed up until the weather drops to around seven degrees.

The grooves on these tyres are shallow, and are made with a hard rubber, meaning that they are perfect for use during the warmer months. They can be installed onto all cars, but the summer tyre is particularly popular with smaller, compact vehicles.

Winter tyre

These can provide heightened grip, even when the temperature goes below seven degrees - as the rubber compound is able to maintain its flexibility in colder climates. For more information, read our winter tyre guide.

All-season tyre

As the title may suggest, these are the best option for all year round. They are the most versatile and adaptable for both warmer and colder weather, providing good grip and stopping distances for your car.

Part-worn tyre

Opting for part-worn tyres means that they have already been used on a previous car. This may be because it was written off, but still had working tyres. Although worn down, they must still satisfy the minimum legal tyre depth in the UK.

These are a great option for those trying to cut the costs, and are readily available for purchase on the high street and online. Check with your mechanic if you are unsure about which part-worn tyres would be suitable for your vehicle.

Run flat tyre

Only available for installation on vehicles with a dash tyre pressure monitor, run flat tyres are designed to continue to work after you experience a puncture on the road.

A great option for those who travel long distances, run flats avoid the necessity to immediately pull over when you get a flat tyre. These are usually more expensive than standard tyres. 

What type of tyre should I buy?

This depends on what car you own, the climate and terrain you will be travelling in, your average mileage and your budget. If you’re still unsure, ask your mechanic to do an assessment of your vehicle and ask for their recommendation.

Whichever tyre you choose to buy, make sure that you fit the same type onto all four wheels!

What is the minimum legal tread depth in the UK?

In the UK and Europe, the legal requirement for your car’s tread depth is 1.6mm across the centre three-quarters of the tyre.

How can I check if my tyres are in a good condition?

There are a few ways you can make sure your tyres are in good nick.


Tyre pressure is different depending on your vehicle, so should be checked regularly in accordance with your car handbook. If you have a pump you can check your tyre pressure at home, or alternatively you could use the air machine at a petrol station or book an appointment with your local garage.


The easiest way to check the depth of your tyres is to use the 20p test. The outer edge of a twenty pence piece is approximately 1.6mm, so placing one in the centre of the tread can be a simple tool for measurement.

General condition

Check regularly for any nicks, punctures or holes on your tyres. If you suspect they may have fallen into disrepair, take your car for a service.

How long does the average tyre last?

There is no definitive answer to this, as every road user will use their tyres differently to others. However, the AA suggests: “You’d hope to get a minimum of 20,000 miles out of front tyres on a front-wheel-drive car, and double that for rear tyres, although we recommend moving worn rear tyres to the front when the fronts wear out.”

Will changing my tyres affect my insurance?

If they are fitted properly and are in good legal working condition, changing your tyres should not affect your insurance.

For more information, contact your insurer.