Commercial Vehicle Tyre Age

Use of tyres aged more than 10-years on goods vehicles, buses and coaches.
The law on the use of tyres on steering axle or axles of affected goods vehicles, buses, minibuses and coaches on Great Britain’s roads.

15 January 2021– February 2021
Following on from extensive coverage of this topic in  Issues 5 and 6 of the FBHVC Newletter including a summary of the new subordinate legislation,  the DfT have now published their official explanatory guide on gov dot uk.  This gives details of the vehicles affected together with what they need to comply with. There are also links on the webpage to the source legislation.

In summary the vehicles affected are:

  • Goods vehicles with a gross mass more than 3.5 tonnes
  • Buses and Coaches
  • Minibuses, which need to further comply with the tyre page requirements on all axles that are not equipped with twin wheels

So far as the UK historic vehicle movement is concerned, those exempt from the new legislation are vehicles of historic interest not in commercial use defined here :  VHI definition

This means that vehicles in the above affected categories which are less than 40 years will have to comply with the new rules even if historic by the international recognised standard.
Readers may also be interested to read the  updates to the HGV Inspection Manual, updates to the class 6 (PSV) Inspection Manual, updates to the class 5 Inspection Manual, and updated versions of the Categorisation of Vehicle Defects and Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness documents.

We would recommend that all drivers and owners of historic heavy vehicles study these documents; while some are predominantly aimed at fleets, there is useful information both around tyres and other matters in all of them.  We as a movement have a good record on roadworthiness matters and it is in everyone’s interest for this to continue.
Large vehicles used commercially of any age, and large vehicles under 40 years of age regardless of use, are required to comply with the following when on the highway from 1st February 2021:

  • Front axle(s) tyres to be less than ten years old (it is defined as a Dangerous fail if they are over, or a Major fail if the date code is illegible).  Front axles means any steered axle in the front half of the vehicle.
  • Rear tyres to have their age marked (can be any age, but there must be a date mark) with a minor defect (formerly described as advisory) if the date codes are illegible.  There is also allowance to be given if dates are on the inner face of a pair of twin wheels, but this should not be regarded as an invitation not to comply.
  • A minibus for tyre age purposes is any vehicle with 8 or more passenger seats, and includes the likes of the Land Rover Station Wagon, various limousine-type vehicles, as well as the more typical minibuses derived from vans like the Ford Transit or Bedford CF. Minibuses are required to comply with the tyre age regulations on all axles that are not equipped with twin wheels, i.e. the above paragraph for front axles also applies to a single wheel rear axle of a minibus.

We remind readers that tyre date codes are four numbers, the first two of which are the week and the last two are the year, so 5210 is the end of 2010 and 0411 is the fourth week of 2011, tyres with either of these date codes being too old for the front axle from 1st February 2021.  A three digit tyre code with a triangle nearby denotes a tyre from the 1990s, example 527 is the last week of 1997 and a three digits without a triangle is the 1970s or 1980s.

Enforcement can occur both at presentation for annual test or during a roadside encounter.  For those with an operating licence, this could also include an unannounced visit to your premises.

To the owners of vehicles that the tyre age requirements do NOT apply to, we would remind that everything else about tyre roadworthiness does apply to you and your vehicles, and that some kind of periodic assessment/documentation of tyre condition would be prudent. You also risk voiding your insurance policy if your vehicle is deemed unroadworthy following an accident.

Should there be any further developments around this topic, we will respond accordingly on behalf of the historic vehicle movement.

Example: Volvo Ailsa A101SUU

This 1984 Volvo bus would be required to comply with the tyre age regulations until 2024, after which it would become a VHI and exempt, assuming its use remains non commercial. - photo copyright Alex Noble with thanks.

Volvo Ailsa A101SUU owned by the 4738 Group, seen at an event in Yorkshire in 2019.  This 1984 bus would be required to comply with the tyre age regulations until 2024, after which it would become a VHI and exempt - photo copyright Alex Noble with thanks.

Example:  Leyland Road Runner

A vehicle from 1989 such as this needs to comply with the Tyre Age requirements until 2029, at which point if its use remains 'non commercial' it would become exempt subject to the point around being no longer in production - hover over or click picture to see full caption - photo Copyright Peter Steel on Flickr.

In the early 1980s, Leyland poured considerable investment into the truck range.  The Ogle-designed T45 cab was the new face of this range, from the RoadTrain at the heaviest end, through to the slightly smaller Cruiser and Constructor, and their 7.5 tonne little brother, the Leyland Roadrunner as seen here.  This vehicle shows an example of direct vision - see our newsletter 1 of 2021.  This preserved example is seen at Brough on the occasion of the commercial vehicle rally held there (in normal times) around Easter.  Upon the DAF takeover this nearside kerb window was deleted and the truck renamed Leyland DAF 45, and with a few significant redesigns it remains in production today as the DAF LF City.  A vehicle from 1989 such as this needs to comply with the Tyre Age requirements until 2029, at which point if its use remains 'non commercial' it would ordinarily become exempt; however because the DAF vehicle is still in production, the advice of DVSA would need to be sought over whether the roadrunner is considered 'no longer in production' or not, given that this is an essential element of the VHI definition - photo Copyright Peter Steel on Flickr with thanks.

Example: Ford Transit Minibus

This Ford Transit minibus of 1985 will need to comply with the tyre age regulations until it attains 40 years of age in 2025, and assuming that it remains in non-commercial use.  This vehicle has twin wheels at the rear, so its front tyres need to be less than 10 years of age and its rears can be any age (assuming still roadworthy), but the date code must be present.  This design is totally different to the modern Transit so the 'no longer in production' VHI point seems unlikely to arise - photo copyright A2E Commercials with thanks.

This Ford Transit minibus of 1985 will need to comply with the tyre age regulations until it attains 40 years of age in 2025, and assuming that it remains in non-commercial use.  This vehicle has twin wheels at the rear, so its front tyres need to be less than 10 years of age and its rears can be any age (assuming still roadworthy), but the date code must be visible.  This design is totally different to the modern Transit so the 'no longer in production' VHI point seems unlikely to arise - photo copyright A2E Commercials with thanks.

Example: Landrover 110 SW Ten Seater

If this vehicle has 8 or more passenger seats, as a minibus it will be required to comply with the ten year tyre age limit on both axles (as it is single wheel at the rear) until 2027, when this 'E' reg vehicle will be 40 years old. An owner may wish to take the advice of one of the Land Rover clubs if they are unsure whether their vehicle is caught by the tyre age regulations or not.

If this vehicle has 8 or more passenger seats, it will be required to comply with the ten year tyre age limit on both axles (as it is single wheel at the rear) until 1987, when this 'E' reg vehicle will be 40 years old. An owner may wish to take the advice of one of the Land Rover clubs if they are unsure whether their vehicle is caught by the tyre age regulations or not.

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