Worn tyres could void your car insurance

It looks like a lot of Aussie drivers are risking voided car insurance claims by driving on un-roadworthy tyres. A survey of more than 1,500 motorists by Canstar Blue has found that 42% of drivers are unaware of legal tyre safety standards, including legal tyre tread depth; while about a quarter (24%) don’t know how to check if their tyres are too worn. As well as being potentially dangerous, that lack of knowledge could prove costly in the event of an accident and subsequent insurance claim.

Worn tyres could void your car insurance

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The survey also found that 48% of drivers delay buying new tyres for as long as possible, while 25% tend to buy the cheapest tyres available. On top of that, 29% admitted they have been fearful of an accident because of driving on worn tyres. Female drivers were more likely than males to be unaware of legal tyre safety standards as well as less likely  to know how to check their tread depth. And the younger a driver is, the less likely they are to know about tyre safety, the survey of 1,587 Australians found. 

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consumers are unaware of legal tyre safety standards

What is car tyre tread depth? And what’s the legal treat depth on tyres

Just over half of Gen Y survey respondents said they didn’t know about law-mandated tyre safety standards or legal tread depth on tyres. So we’re going to briefly go over the basics of tyre treads, along with why making sure that your tyre doesn’t wear past the legal tyre tread depth is so important.

Tyre treads are the patterned lines that go along and across the surface of your tyres. They allow your tyres to grip the road more thoroughly, and are integral to your car’s ability to drive safely; especially in the rain where they help to remove the water from between your tyres and the road.

However with all that driving we tend to do, the rest of the tyre eventually starts to wear away, reducing the depth of the treads. And once the tyre’s tread depth has been reduced to a certain point, the tyre is considered worn out, and no longer safe to drive on. So what is that certain point, and how do you figure out if your tyres have reached it or not?

The law mandates that the minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.5mm. That may not seem like much, but you’d be surprised at what tyres and the forces of physics can make do with. Your car’s tyre tread depth can be measured manually using a specialty tool designed for the task, but many tyres these days come equipped with tread indicators around the circumference of the tyre, which make gauging tread depth much easier. If the tread has worn down to any of the tyre wear indicators, or there is less than 1.5mm of tread depth on the tyre, then it is considered to be un-roadworthy. Here are some more tips on getting to grips with road safety.

what is the minimum legal tyre depth

What else do you need to stay on top of?

Motor vehicles insurers could potentially void a claim if you haven’t kept your car in a roadworthy condition. But vehicle condition aside, what else do you need to stay on top of to ensure that your claim doesn’t get denied?

Some other things that have the potential sometimes to void your car insurance claim are:

Any undisclosed modifications. If you want to kit out your car with some flashy upgrades, you’ll definitely need to check with your insurer before doing so. Failure to do won’t automatically result in your claim being denied, but the possibility is definitely there.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This one’s a no-brainer; any driver knows that driving after a few drinks is generally a no-no, especially for drivers on their L’s or P’s, who must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0% while driving. It’s worth noting that depending on your size and gender you might be okay to have a single drink before driving and still come in at below the legal maximum of 0.05%– but considering the fact that your ability to drive is impaired at a BAC as low as 0.02%, it’s worth considering just sticking to water if you’re planning on driving.

Overloading a car or trailer being towed. Just be sure to check the gross vehicle weight rating of any car or trailer you’re using to tow goods, to ensure that you don’t end up towing an excessive amount. Being involved in an accident while driving an overloaded car or trailer is an easy way to have your insurance claim denied or voided.

Not maintaining your car in a roadworthy condition, including worn brake pads. It’s important to take your car in for a service when needed; some components can wear away or break without you realising, and this can then lead to a voided car insurance claim if you’re driving with worn or faulty parts. You could of course try servicing your own car, but be mindful of the pros and cons of doing so.

Allowing a non-insured driver behind the wheel of your car if you have a restricted policy. For example, young drivers if you have a policy specifying drivers over the age of 25 only. Insurance policies that allow young drivers behind the wheel of your car tend to be more expensive.

Most things that can void your insurance cover are all simple. They are things that, reasonably, an insurance provider should be able to expect you to do. It’s also worth noting that you need to pay your car insurance premiums on time! The excuse of “I forgot” or “I didn’t realise” simply won’t wash with your insurer when you go to make a claim. That’s why it’s vital for all drivers to be completely au fait with the terms of their policy.


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