Tyre Usage & Conditions

Regulation 24, 26, 27(1) (a) to (h) and 27 (4) (e) and (f), Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 deals with tyres, their fitment, type and use. 

The information below relates to tyres, including: 

  • Tyre replacement
  • General information on tyres 
  • Re-cutting tyres 
  • Current requirements 

There is also information concerning the applicable regulations 

  • Regulation 24 - Types of tyre 
  • Regulation 24 and 27(5) - Tyres and re-cutting of tyres 
  • Regulation 26 - Mixing of tyres and axle requirements 
  • Regulation 27 (1) (a) to (h) - Maintenance of tyres 
  • Regulation 27 (4) (e) and (f) and 27 (1)(g) - Depth of tread 

The following is a brief overview of the requirements of the regulations.

Tyres aged 10 years and older will be banned from HGV, LGV, PCV use on roads in England, Scotland and Wales to improve road safety. See our updated Tyre Age Restriction guide

The Government has granted an exemption on 2 vehicle groups. These vehicles are currently exempt from tyre roadworthiness regulations (including agricultural tractors that travel at low speeds) to remain consistent with existing legislation.

  • Historic vehicles are currently exempt from roadworthiness testing, providing they are not used commercially. The Government recognise that historic vehicles are usually well-maintained, and are used infrequently and do not travel at high speeds, but it is important to balance the granting of any exemptions with the safety of all road users.
  • Currently, Taxi's and Private Hire vehicles are also exempt.

General Tyre Data

  • Most goods vehicles must have pneumatic tyres.
  • Works trucks, street cleansing and refuse disposal vehicles and tower wagons may have solid tyres.  
  • Trailers drawn by a motor car or heavy motor car must have pneumatic tyres, with certain exceptions.
  • Tractors and locomotives must have pneumatic or solid tyres, except for certain agricultural vehicles. 

Re-Cut Tyres 

ECE Regulations 108 and 109, which relates to the production of re-treaded car and truck tyres respectively, came into effect on January 1st 2004 making it mandatory for re-treaded tyres to be subjected to the same "type approval" tests as new tyres. 

The legislation means that re-treaded tyres that are not "e-marked" to show that their producer has gained official approval under ECE 108 and 109 are now illegal at the point of sale in the UK. 

Re-cut pneumatic tyres must not be fitted to: 

  • Private cars; 
  • Dual-purpose vehicles; 
  • Goods vehicles of less than 2,540 kg unladen weight; or 
  • Goods vehicles that are motor cars over 2,540 kg and have wheels with a rim diameter of fewer than 405 mm 

Electric vehicles are exempt.  

Re-cut tyres are also prohibited on trailers:

  • Of less than 1,020 kg unladen weight (2,040 kg for caravans); 
  • Trailers carrying plant and equipment that do not exceed 2,290 kg total weight 

Works trailers and certain other specialised trailers are exempt.

A temporary use spare tyre is a pneumatic tyre designed for use on a motor vehicle only in the event of tyre failure. It may be fitted to:

  • passenger vehicles constructed or adapted to carry eight or fewer seated passengers plus the driver, first used before 1 April 1987 or; 
  • vehicles complying at the time of first use with ECE Regulation 64. A vehicle fitted with such a tyre must not be driven over 50 mph 

Tyre Requirements - Goods Vehicles 

A goods vehicle, bus or trailer must be equipped with tyres designed and maintained adequately to support the maximum axle weight for each axle at specified speeds.  

It is illegal to use a tyre that:

  1. in the case of passenger vehicles; constructed or adapted to carry no more than eight passengers excluding the driver, and goods vehicles or trailers with a maximum gross weight not exceeding 3,500 kg, and does not have a minimum of 1.6 mm tread depth over the centre three-quarters of the tyre and around the entire outer circumference; 
  2. In the case of vehicles other than those in 1 above:- 
    1. does not have a depth of at least 1 mm in the grooves of the tread pattern throughout a continuous band measuring at least three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and around the entire outer circumference (and a visible tread pattern on the remaining quarter - see 8); or 
    2. does not have a groove depth of at least 1 mm in the tread pattern where the original pattern did not extend beyond three-quarters of the breadth of the tread; 
  3. is not suitably inflated for the use to which the vehicle or trailer is put; 
  4. has a cut above 25 mm or 10 per cent of the section width of the tyre, whichever is the greater, deep enough to reach the ply or cord;  
  5. has a lump, bulge or tear caused by separation or partial fracture of its structure: 
  6. is unsuitable regarding the vehicle's use or to the types of tyres fitted to the other wheels (this does not apply to temporary use spare tyres);  
  7. has any portion of the ply or cord exposed;  
  8. does not have the original tread pattern clearly visible at the base of any groove:  
  9. is not maintained in a fit condition for the use to which the vehicle or trailer is put: 
  10. has a defect that might cause damage to the road surface or to persons on or in the vehicle or using the road 

Requirements 2-9 do not apply to:

  • An agricultural motor vehicle not driven at more than 20 mph; 
  • An agricultural trailed appliance; 
  • An agricultural trailer; 
  • A broken-down vehicle or a vehicle proceeding to a place where it is to be broken up, being drawn, in either case, by a motor vehicle not exceeding 20 mph; 

Requirements 2 and 8 do not apply to:

  • a pedestrian controlled works truck. 

It is illegal to have a mixture of cross-ply and radial tyres on the same axle except where one is a temporary use spare tyre. It is also illegal to fit cross-ply tyres on the rear wheel of a two-axle vehicle with single wheels if radial tyres are fitted to the front wheels. 

On other power-driven vehicles, all steerable axles must be fitted with tyres of the same structure, as must all driven axles that are not steerable. An axle includes two stub axles that form a pair and an articulated vehicle is treated as two separate vehicles. 

A re-cut tyre cannot be used if its ply or cord has been cut or exposed by the re-cutting process or, if it has been wholly or partially re-cut, in a pattern other than the manufacturer; re-cut tread pattern. 

Tyre Safety - removal, replacement and inflation 

Tyre removal, replacement and inflation should only be carried out by competent staff. The main hazards which can arise include:

  • manual handling injuries, which account for nearly half of all tyre-related incidents reported
  • tool-related injuries, which make up a quarter of incidents, particularly from hand tools such as tyre levers; and
  • compressed-air accidents e.g. from a ruptured or burst tyre or violent separation of the component parts of the wheel. These accidents tend to result in serious injuries, including fatalities. 

Safety during tyre inflation 

Inflated tyres contain a large amount of stored energy, which varies according to the inflation pressure and the surface area of the tyre. For example, the sidewall of a typical commercial vehicle tyre has to withstand over 34 tonnes of force from compressed air before additional carriage weight is taken into account. 

If the tyre fails, an explosive force can be released at an angle of up to 45 degrees from the rupture, which is often, but not always, the face of the sidewall. This has resulted in numerous fatalities over the years. The airline hose between the clip-on chuck and the pressure gauge/control must be long enough to allow the operator to stand outside the likely trajectory of any explosion during inflation. This will vary depending on the size of the tyre and its positioning. 

Car Tyres  

Car tyres generally contain less energy than truck tyres and their size and profile make them less likely to fail catastrophically. Sensible precautions are still required, but a restraining device such as a safety cage is not normally necessary. 

Light Commercial Vehicle Tyres  

Light commercial tyres are now commonly found with pressures around 70 psi, which may be sufficient to cause serious injury. If so, enhanced safety measures such as those required for conventional truck/bus tyres should be used. When inflating above 15 psi this will include using a restraint such as:

  • a secured horizontal stool and associated clamp mechanism a strong firmly secured cage. The safety exclusion zone should be marked on the floor 
  • a portable restraint that covers the tyre and wheel rim - useful for off-site repairs 

Airlines should have quick-release couplings at both ends to allow the tyre to be deflated from outside the likely explosion trajectory if a fault e.g. a potential ‘zipper’ failure of the sidewall is detected. The valve connector should not require the operator to hold its place. 

The pressure gauge/control valve should never be jammed in the open position, nor should ‘unrestricted’ airlines i.e. without a gauge or pressure control device be used to inflate any tyre.  

Whatever else, safety when working on, especially inflating commercial tyres is paramount at all times. 

The following links provide guidance and further information

C&U Regulations 1986 – Regulation 24 - Tyres

Supply or distribute vehicle tyres - labelling rules 

C&U Regulation’s 1986 – Regulation 25 – Tyre loads and Speed ratings 

Tyre Age Restrictions

Under contraction and Use DVSA warn operators that old tyres are dangerous and should not be fitted to commercial vehicles if they are more than 10 years old.

Read more