How tyres affect car insurance

Selecting the correct size and type is a good place to start.

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Though a regular set of tyres may not directly affect your car insurance, correctly maintaining your vehicle and having the right tyres can help prevent increased premiums over time or invalidating your cover altogether.

Do tyres affect car insurance?

Car insurance companies want to know that you’re taking care of your car since a well-maintained vehicle makes for a safer ride. Proper maintenance can get you discounts and cheaper rates, depending on your provider’s policies. But vehicles that haven’t been regularly checked run the risk of being unsafe to drive and this can result in a greater chance of the poorly maintained vehicle being involved in an accident.

In general, it’s best to buy tyres recommended by the car’s manufacturer and which meet your vehicle’s specifications. Let your insurer know if you have modified tyres in case it needs to calculate that into your rate. It’s better to be honest upfront and get cover for your modified wheels than risk losing coverage when you really need it.

Maintaining your tyres

Air pressure

Checking the air pressure in your tyres is one of the easiest checks you can carry out on your car to ensure it is safe for the road. You’ll need a tyre pressure gauge, which you can find online or wherever you do the weekly shop. Once you have your gauge, you’ll need to take off the valve cap on the car wheel and place the gauge into the valve and check the reading. You’ll need to do this for each tyre on the car.

The pressure in your tyres will very much depend on the type of car you own and the load you’re carrying inside it. You can find the optimum tyre pressure listed within your car’s handbook or you may find it displayed on your car’s doorway.

If the pressure reading is lower than it should be, you will need to inflate each tyre to the recommended pressure. Most petrol stations have a tyre inflator to reinflate your tyres.

Underinflated tyres can reduce your car’s fuel efficiency.

If, on the other hand, your pressure reading is higher than it should be, this can wear down the tyres quicker and also affect your car’s grip or traction to the road. Ultimately, this could lead to issues with braking and therefore increase the likelihood of collisions.

Tyre tread depth

Another way to ensure your tyres are roadworthy is by checking the tyre tread. Under UK law, tyres should have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm to be on UK roads. A car will fail its MOT test for having bald tyres with no tread or a tread depth less than 1.6mm. If you were stopped by a police officer while driving in a car with bald tyres, it can lead to a fine and points on your driver’s licence, which is likely to increase your insurance premiums.

Most car manufacturers recommend changing tyres when they reach a depth of 3mm in order to avoid any loss of traction and grip to the road.

You can use a 20p coin to check the tread depth of your tyres as the outer band of the coin is about 1.6mm. If you can see the outer band of the coin once you’ve placed it in between the groove in your tyre, then it’s time to replace the tyre.

What if I have oversized tyres?

Oversized tyres are sometimes considered an unnecessary risk by insurance companies. They alter the odometer and speedometer reading, which can lead to higher chances of an accident. Other car modifications, such as custom tyres or rims, could require supplemental coverage. Before changing your tyres for bigger ones, it’s important that you let your insurer know so it can recalculate your premium. If you go ahead and supersize your tyres before your insurer’s permission, you risk invalidating your cover altogether so it’s always best to check beforehand.

What happens if I have the wrong kind of tyres?

Incorrect or improperly maintained tyres are a risk to your passengers and the cars around you. Potential consequences include:

  • Increased likelihood of an accident. Your car is only as reliable as the sum of its parts. If you have the wrong tyres, your car could lose its grip and cause a collision.
  • Increased wear and tear. Inappropriate tyres may not be equipped to handle the force of the car on top of them. Expect incorrect tyres to wear down more easily.
  • Increased insurance premiums. The more accidents you have, the higher your insurance premium is. Having faulty tyres could hurt your rates in the long run if they lead to more claims submitted.

How do I know what kind of tyres I need?

To determine the type of tyres your car needs, check your owner’s manual. There, you’ll find a label specifying your car’s requirements for tyre size, load index and speed rating.

Bottom line

Though tyres may not directly impact insurance rates, a well-maintained set with the correct specifications will likely save you money and trouble in the long run.

Taking the time to compare car insurance quotes will help you find the best overall deal for your situation.

Frequently asked questions about tyres and car insurance

Finder survey: Do you know everything that car insurance covers?

Source: Finder survey by Censuswide of 1032 Brits, December 2023
*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, (Mar ’24). 51% of car insurance customers could save £524.68
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