TyreSafe says MOT exemption doesn't mean safety rules are suspended.

The government may have relaxed MOT rules during the coronavirus lockdown, but a road safety organisation is urging motorists to keep checking their tyres. The call comes after the government announced six-month mot exemptions for vehicle owners as the country attempts to halt the spread of Covid-19.

Now safety charity TyreSafe is reminding drivers that although they don’t need to get their car tested for six months if its MOT is due after March 30, that doesn’t mean they can flout road safety rules. The Department for Transport (DfT) has already said vehicles “must be kept in a roadworthy condition” and those driving unsafe vehicles can still be prosecuted.

TyreSafe says the “regrettable… but understandable” exemptions mean responsibility for vehicle safety is being passed on to motorists. As a result, the organisation is calling on drivers to keep tabs on their tyre condition and pressures, noting that a quarter of MOT failures “have historically been due to unsafe tyres”. This, the charity claims, shows drivers tend to leave the detection of tyre safety issues to MOT testers.

Now, though, TyreSafe says motorists will need to ensure their tyres’ air pressure, condition and tread depth are fit for the road and legal if they want to stay safe and avoid fines of up to £2,500. And to help drivers, the organisation has issued advice to ensure they are checking their tyres properly.

Falken Tyres

To test pressures, the charity says, motorists should consult the car’s handbook, or a placard in the door shut or fuel filler cap, to ascertain the correct pressures. Then, using an accurate pressure gauge, they should check their tyre’s inflation level and adjust it according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

And to check tread depth, TyreSafe recommends using a 20 pence to judge how close a tyre’s tread is to the 1.6 mm legal limit. To test the depth, insert the coin across the width of the tyre and around its circumference, and the border to the 20p can be seen, the tyre is close to the legal limit and should be checked with an accurate gauge. If it is below the 1.6 mm legal minimum, it must be replaced as soon as possible.

Mechanic checking tread depth on a car tyre for wear

Finally, the organisation recommends a visual inspection of each tyre, looking for lumps, cracks or objects embedded in it. If any of these are seen, the tyre should be considered unsafe to use until checked by a professional.

“The need to make vehicles exempt from the MoT is regrettable from a road safety point of view but entirely understandable in the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said TyreSafe chairman Stuart Jackson. “However, drivers should be making certain when they drive, their vehicle is safe. With so many uncertainties and unexpected events happening to families and organisations all the time, drivers should not delay in carrying out these checks but instead be confident their car is roadworthy no matter what the reason for their essential journey.”

Tyre with damaged tread