Tyres: Time for change

Written by: Fuel Card Services, Last updated:13th February 2023

Determining the optimum time to replace tyres can have significant cost, safety and compliance implications for fleets. Ben Rooth reports

Safety, cost and compliance are three of the major factors fleets need to consider when determining when to replace tyres.

Each has an impact on the others: for example, set a higher minimum tread depth for when tyres are changed for safety reasons and costs increase, but if a fleet waits until they are close to the 1.6mm legal tread depth limit then they run the risk of breaking the law.

“As always, it’s a balance between operating costs for a fleet and the operational needs of the fleet,” says Lee O’Neill, operations manager at Venson Automotive Solutions.

Fleets typically operate a policy of 2mm, although organisations such as safety charity Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the National Tyres Distributors Association call for tyres to be changed at 3mm.

So how can a fleet manager decide when is the optimum time to replace tyres on their vehicles? Here we look at the factors they need to consider.


New tyres typically come with 8mm of tread, and staying on the right side of the law means a minimum depth of 1.6mm in a continuous band across the central three-quarters of the tyre width around the entire circumference of the tyre.


Tyres have a vital role to play in the safety of a driver. “Too often tyre management is overlooked and there is a tendency to forget that the only thing keeping the car on the road is the palm-sized contact patch of the tyre,” says David Howe, fleet and retail channel manager for Goodyear Dunlop.


Changing tyres too early can have massive cost implications for fleets, says McWhir.

“Replacing tyres as soon as the tread depth reaches 3mm or 4mm inevitably means doing so more frequently which represents a significant increase in running costs,” he adds.

Environmental impact

Increasing the frequency with which tyres are replaced can also have a significant environmental impact, which companies with a strong corporate social responsibility may take into account.

Vehicle downtime

When it comes to minimising the downtime linked to changing tyres, industry analysts agree that drivers need to take personal responsibility and utilise mobile support fitters whenever possible.

Read the full story on Fleet News