October is National Tyre Safety Month, so we’ve put together some tips on how to make sure your tyres are keeping you safe on the road.
When was the last time you checked your tyres? For a lot of us, that question isn’t so easy to answer. While it is advised that you check your tyre tread depth, pressure and condition once a month, few of us find the time to do so. In fact, many cars only have their tyres checked when they in the garage for a service or MOT.
But neglecting your tyres can have serious consequences. Each year in the UK, more than 1,200 road casualties are caused by illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres. And according to a 2013 report by the Department for Transport, a massive 40% of vehicle-defect related deaths were due to illegal tyres. This month is Tyre Safety Month, so there’s no better time to start the habit of checking your tyres regularly.
How to check your tyres
Credit: Tyresafe.org via YouTube.com
It’s all well and good saying we should be checking our tyres, but what is the correct way to do so? When you check your tyres every month, you should be checking three things – tread depth, tyre pressure and general condition.
How to check tyre tread
For your tyres to be legal, they must have at least 1.6mm of tread on them. Luckily, there’s a simple way to check if your tyres have the tread required – and all it takes is a 20-pence coin. Insert the coin into one of the grooves on your tyre. If the tread goes above the rim of the coin, then it has sufficient tread. This check should be repeated across the width of the tyre, as well as at several points around its circumference. If any one of the points you check fails this test, then that tyre is illegal. And don’t forget to check your spare wheel to make sure that’s legal too!
But why does the tread depth matter? Tyre tread provides grip, helping to reduce stopping distances and improve control, particularly in wet conditions. Tyres with tread under 1.6mm will not provide sufficient grip to be safe for you and other road users.
Tests carried out by the British Tyre Manufacturers Association found that when braking, a car travelling in the wet at 50mph on new tyres with 8mm of tread depth took 25.9m to stop whereas it took 37.8m to stop on worn tyres with 1.6mm of tread depth.
It is also important to check for any uneven wear. This can be an indication of incorrect tyre pressures. Under-inflated tyres will wear more heavily on the edges, whereas over-inflated tyres will wear more on the centre. If the excessive wear seems to be on one side only, that can be an indication that your wheels are misaligned, and it may be a good idea to get your wheel alignment checked.
How to check tyre pressure
Having the correct tyre pressure is important, particularly when the car is heavily loaded. Although your tyres may show no signs of lost pressure, air generally escapes them at a rate of 2 PSI per month. If the tyres are under-inflated, it can cause excessive wear on the inner and outer edges. Under-inflated tyres also cause increased rolling resistance, which will increase CO2 emissions and reduce fuel efficiency.
Over-inflated tyres also cause problems. The reduced contact with the road causes loss of traction and increases the braking distances. It will also cause excessive wear on the centre of the tyre.
You can find out the correct pressure for your car either in the vehicle handbook, the inner sill of the driver’s door or inside of the fuel tank flap. You can check your tyre pressures and top up the air at most petrol stations.
How to check tyre condition
When checking the overall condition of your tyres, it’s important to look out for the following:
- stones or other objects stuck in the tread
- any lumps or bumps
- any cuts or cracks
Remove anything stuck in the tyres, and if you find any lumps or cuts, take it into the garage to be checked by a professional.
Make sure to spread the word about Tyre Safety Month, and if you need a professional opinion, just get in touch with one of our Aftersales Teams. We have garages located in Byfleet, Bookham and Orpington.