A new survey for the RAC Foundation has revealed that as many as 45% of all motorists - including 60% of women drivers - do not know the minimum legal tread depth of car tyres.
Some 90% of those polled understood the link between tyre age and road safety, yet 59% of all drivers said they were unlikely to check vital information on the age of their tyres printed on the rubber sidewall.
With most vehicles tyres are replaced long before ageing becomes an issue, the Foundation said. However, owners of low-mileage cars, vintage and classic models, caravans, motor homes and trailers needed to be aware of the risk of tyre fatigue.
And it was also important to check the spare tyre, which is also at risk of age-related deterioration.
The survey found that 70% motorists would like to see the current age coding system replaced by an easy-to-read "year of manufacture" date on the tyre.
RAC Foundation deputy director Sheila Rainger said: "Modern tyres are very robust and failure-resistant, but older tyres that have been stored incorrectly or simply not used for many years can become unfit for purpose through the passage of time alone."
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