Over a third of UK drivers (40%) cannot confidently carry out a tyre tread check.

That is the result of new research by automotive marketplace eBay.

More than half (53%) of 18-34 year olds don’t know how to check that their tyre tread is within the legal limit.

Older generations also lack confidence, with more than a third of 35-54 year-olds revealing the same knowledge gap.

Dark circles

Cars, vans and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) legally require a minimum depth of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre and around the entire circumference. However, most vehicle manufacturers suggest replacing the tyres when they reach 3mm of tread. This ensures the tyres perform to the levels advertised when new.

Drivers caught with illegal tyres risk being hit with a £2,500 fine and three penalty points per tyre. As well as the financial risk, there’s a big safety risk that comes with badly worn tyres. According to Department for Transport records, in 2021, illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres caused 491 casualties and 12 deaths in the UK.

Willing to learn

More than a third (33%) of UK drivers don’t feel confident carrying out basic car checks and repairs. But 63% want to gain more knowledge.

The driving test asks candidates two vehicle safety questions. These can include how to check tyre tread depth, oil, headlights and taillights, brake lights, brake pads, engine coolant and more.

Hannah Gordon, an expert mechanic, believes UK drivers’ should have a better understanding of basic vehicle checks and maintenance.

“It’s concerning to know the number of drivers who aren’t sure how to check tyre tread depth. It’s one of the most important checks you can make; low tyre tread depth increases stopping distances and at worst, could result in a serious accident. Checking tyre tread depth is so easy”.

Hannah adds: “Identifying the right tyre for your car is easy using eBay’s MyGarage function – just pop in your licence plate and vehicle model and parts suited to your vehicle will come up.”

Plenty to understand

But it wasn’t just checking the tread of the tyre which seems to cause problems. More than half of motorists (66%) were unaware of how to change a wheel.  More than half (56%) of UK drivers can’t jump-start a car, with almost 70% of women not confident of the process. Some 66% of drivers would also struggle to change a headlight or rear bulb.

More simple maintenance tasks are also a problem. Fitting a new wiper blade or checking oil levels would be a struggle for 34%.

Dr Tony Tong, Head of Automotive at eBay UK believes there’s plenty to be gained by learning. “Basic car checks and repairs can seem daunting but can often be simple and more cost-effective than going to a garage. Boosting your knowledge when it comes to car checks will not only save you time, but can also improve safety”.