Almost nine million drivers could be risking lives with sub-standard tyres.

One in four UK motorists could be driving on illegal tyres, according to new research from dealer group Evans Halshaw. The organisation analysed data from almost 400,000 vehicle services over a 21-month period, revealing 26 percent of services flag up at least one illegal tyre.

Assuming the company’s sample size is accurate, that means an estimated 8.5 million motorists could be driving around with illegal rubber. Should any of those drivers be caught by the police, they would risk a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points on their licence.

According to Evans Halshaw’s analysis, the town of Stockport, near Manchester, is home to the greatest proportion of illegal tyres, with 39.2 percent of services flagging a tyre in illegal condition. Bury, just north of Manchester, was second with 36.8 percent of services revealing illegal rubber.

Tyre tread closeup

Manchester itself, meanwhile, was fifth on the list with 34.8 percent of services revealing tyres in sub-standard condition. Splitting the big city from its satellite towns were Portsmouth and Banbury, which saw illegal tyres flagged in 36.3 and 35.1 percent of services respectively.

Overall, Evans Halshaw says the proportion of cars with defective tyres has risen three percent since 2019, despite some areas seeing a noticeable reduction in numbers. Stockport, for example, might have the largest proportion of cars with illegal rubber, but that figure has fallen from about 43 percent in 2019.

Similarly, Hemel Hempstead found itself second in the rogues’ gallery last year, with 38 percent of services flagging one or more illegal tyres. Now, though, the town has fallen to twelfth in the rankings, with around 31 percent of vehicles presenting with illegal tyres.

“Our study has demonstrated just how common illegal tyres are in the UK, revealing one in four drivers are potentially on the roads with a safety critical tyre each day,” said Michael Hunt, group head of aftersales at Evans Halshaw. “In particular, residents in the north-west of England should check their tyres regularly as locations in this region feature dominantly in the top 10 places with the highest failure rates.”

“The data also highlights the importance of inspecting your vehicle on a regular basis. Look for any cuts, cracks and bulges and then make sure there is plenty of tread on the tyres. By simply carrying out some quick tyre checks you can help to reduce your fuel bills and emissions, extend the life of your tyres, as well as ensuring that your vehicle can perform properly and safely. We also recommend booking your vehicle in for regular health checks which can identify other potential safety issues.”

Mechanic checking tread depth on a car tyre for wear