Four in 10 motorists are risking their safety and that of those around them by not checking their tyres, research has revealed.
This not only creates a greater risk on the road, but drivers could pick up 12 points, a fine of £2,500 per tyre and a driving ban if their tyres are not roadworthy.
But a survey of 2,000 motorists found one in 10 (12 per cent) said they never check their tyres, while a quarter (27 per cent) didn’t know when they last checked them.
As a result, almost a fifth (18 per cent) admitted they couldn’t say if their tyres were road legal or not.
In the UK, all road-legal cars must have a minimum 1.6mm tyre tread depth. While braking distance and vehicle control reduces as the tyre wears, below this, they are particularly dangerous because they are significantly impaired.
However, just 27 per cent of drivers surveyed by Continental Tyres, who commissioned the research to mark the start of Road Safety Week, correctly named 1.6mm as the minimum legal tyre tread depth in the UK.
One in 50 motorists surveyed, the equivalent of more than 600,000 drivers, thought the legal tread was just 1mm.
Peter Robb, from Continental Tyres, said: “It is vital your car is in a roadworthy condition, and this means carrying out regular maintenance checks – particularly with an easy-to-do task like looking at the condition of your tyres.
“Driving around with worn tyres can not only be a dangerous experience, but also a costly one.
“Tyres form the essential bond between your vehicle and the ground, with the tread gripping to the road as you drive, and if there isn’t enough tread your car loses traction and your braking distance increases.
"Reduced tread depth makes it harder to control the vehicle in wet weather and the chance of aquaplaning increases, putting lives at risk inside and outside of the vehicle.”
Worryingly, almost a third (29 per cent) said they didn't know the correct tyre pressure on their vehicle.
And while all cars sold in the UK after 2014 have to have a tyre pressure monitor system (TPMS) by law to warn drivers of low pressure, it is not something they always pay attention to.
The survey, carried out by OnePoll, found that if the TMPS light came on, almost four in 10 (37 per cent) wouldn’t look at the tyre immediately.
But even with a brand-new tyre, something as tiny as a nail or a piece of glass can cause damage in an instant. Punctures larger than 5mm in diameter can lead to a rapid loss of air pressure and a flat tyre.
To counter this, Continental Tyres has developed ContiSeal - a sticky, viscous sealant layer inside the tyre which closes damage up to 5mm in diameter, fixing 80 per cent of all punctures instantly.
This technology allows driving to continue without the need to change to a spare tyre or call out roadside assistance.
Pete Robb, from Continental Tyres, added: “As the days are getting shorter and the weather more unpredictable, it is crucial your tyres are in a roadworthy condition.
“You should regularly use a tyre tread depth gauge or simply carry out the 20p tyre test and also look for excessive shoulder wear which can indicate misalignment or other problems with your vehicle. Also watch out for bulges in the sidewall, as this can indicate internal tyre damage and your tyres may not be safe.
“And if your car doesn’t have a tyre pressure monitoring system, we’d recommend buying a tyre pressure gauge and carrying out regular checks.”