Bald tyre Britain faces up to £27m in fines

2.5 million drivers failed MOTs as a result of defective tyres in 2015/2016

Posted on 10 Feb 2017

Drivers fined for driving with defective tyres pay £2,700 on average.
Over 32,000 penalty points were handed out to almost 9,000 drivers with defective tyres in 2016.4
One in three (35%) found out they were driving with bald tyres at the garage as the MOT period for new cars is set to rise to FOUR YEARS.
Almost three quarters (73%) say they know how to check their tyres – yet only a quarter (26%) know the legal tread depth

UK drivers put themselves at risk of paying up to £27 million 1 in fines in 2016, as new research shows 2.5 million drivers failed their MOT tests 2, 3 for driving with bald or defective tyres.

The Freedom of Information data, obtained by no.1 site for car savings, shows that one in four (23%) MOTs are failed by defective tyres, with ‘bald’ tyres being the most common tyre-related reason for rejection.2, 3 What’s more, over 32,000 penalty points were handed out to almost 9,000 drivers for the offence in 2016 alone.4

And with motorists facing three points on their license and up to £2,500 in fines per tyre, according to further research by, penalties for tyre offences are setting drivers back by hefty sums. Those motorists who have faced fines have been forced to pay £2,700 on average for driving with bald or defective tyres. Many have felt the full force of penalty points, too, with the average offender being stung with six points and a whopping 38% finding themselves disqualified from driving as a result.

Perhaps it is no wonder drivers are being caught out, with many failing to notice their illegal tyres until they reach the garage. One in three (35%) motorists who have driven with defective tyres only realised when their car was checked at the garage. A further quarter (28%) only noticed when it was pointed out to them by a relative or friend. And with the Department of Transport proposing to extend the MOT period for new cars from three years to four years, we could see even more drivers unwittingly fined for defective tyre offences.

Yet drivers’ apparent reliance on garage checks does not appear to be due to lack of confidence, as almost three quarters (73%) say they know how to check their tyre tread. But despite this, only a quarter (26%) actually know the legal tread depth for car tyres in the UK is over 1.6mm.  And for some motorists, checking their own tread depth rarely appears to be at the forefront of their mind with 15% carrying out a check once a year or less and a further 16% admitting they never check.

Given that only 3% of drivers know they can be fined up to £2,500 per tyre, it may be unsurprising that some have little urgency when it comes to getting them replaced. Of those who discovered their car had defective tyres, over a quarter (26%) had them replaced over a week later, with almost one in 10 (9%) waiting more than a month to have them corrected. Most shocking is the distance some motorists are prepared to drive with bald or defective tyres, with the average motorist taking six trips in the car and driving 13 miles before having them replaced.

Despite the repercussions, convenience appears to be the main reason why motorists are continuing to drive after realising their tyres are illegal. More than a third (34%) did not get their tyres changed straight away because they didn’t have time, while a quarter (24%) said they could not afford it at the time. And a further quarter (23%) said the garage could not fit them in sooner.

Lack of education about the legality of driving with bald or defective tyres seems to play a role, too. Over half (52%) of motorists feel more should be done to help people understand the law. And one in two (50%) agree that more should be done to raise awareness of the dangers of driving with bald or defective tyres. Over half (52%) say they would find it helpful to have an alert or warning before their tyres are worn below the legal tread depth. 

To help drivers save money, avoid bald tyre fines and ease the hassle of arranging a trip to the garage, has launched an online tyre tool ( which allows drivers to compare tyres and book a fitting for a single pay-on-the-day fee. Drivers can compare the cost of budget, mid-range and premium tyres by simply entering their car registration, picking their tyres and choosing from a range of local fitters at a time and date to suit them.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at, says:
“It’s pretty shocking to find out that 2.5 million drivers have failed their MOTs as a result of not checking their tyres regularly.

“We understand that arranging to have your tyres changed seems like a hassle, and we know some drivers are concerned about how big a hole it’s going to burn in their pockets. But motorists need to ask themselves if it’s really worth risking three points on their license and enormous fines of up to £2,500 per tyre.

“’s tyre tool helps to lower the cost of buying new tyres by allowing you to compare prices in advance, so there are no nasty surprises once you get to the garage. Plus, you can pay on the day and the cost of fitting and disposal of your old tyres is completely included in the price. It doesn’t even cost any more if you book in with a premium fitter! Drivers can also book a date and time to suit them in advance, making the process as hassle-free as possible.”


Notes to editors

Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of This was an online poll of 2,000 UK adults who drive (nationally representative sample). The research was conducted between 12th January and 18th January 2017.

1. In 2016 10,766 endorsements were handed out for defective tyres. We multiplied this figure by £2,500 (the maximum penalty per defective tyre endorsement) which demonstrates that in 2016 drivers could have paid up to £26,915,000 in fines for driving with defective tyres.
2. The DVSA figures on MOT failures are for the financial year of 2015-2016.
3. issued a Freedom of Information request to the DVSA. The request asked the following:
Please can you provide

   a. The MOT failure rate by month, for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016
   b. MOT failure breakdown by component, for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, 
   c. Breakdown of the Reasons for Rejection (RfR) for tyre failures, for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016.

4. issued a Freedom of Information request to the DVLA. The request asked the following.
Please can you provide

   a. The number of UK driving licenses with endorsements under the code CU30 driving a vehicle with defective tyres. Please provide the most up to date data you can for 2016, along with data for 2015 and 2014.

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Launched in 2002, was the UK's first digital marketplace for car insurance and is one of the leading brands in the sector, generating over one million quotes per month. It has expanded its range of comparison products over the years to include home insurance, van insurance, motorcycle insurance, and car finance comparison, as well as a number of tools designed to save consumers money. is not a supplier, insurance company or broker. It provides an objective and unbiased service. By using cutting-edge technology, it has developed a series of intelligent web-based solutions that evaluate a number of risk factors to help customers with their decision-making, subsequently finding them great deals on a wide-range of insurance products, financial services, utilities and more.’s service is based on the most up-to-date information provided by UK suppliers and industry regulators.

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