October marks tyre safety month, highlighting an often overlooked aspect of car maintenance. As the main point of contact between the car and the road, tyres are absolutely crucial when it comes to a vehicle’s overall safety.
Despite this, many people fail to routinely check their corners. According to a recent survey of 2,000 drivers by Halfords, some four million cars could be on the roads illegally with bald tyres, after 13 per cent of 2,000 motorists admitted to driving with tyres which were below the legal tread depth.
The good news is that checking your tyres needn’t be complicated. Here’s what to look at to ensure that you’re safe on the road.
Current UK law states that tyre tread on cars must be at a minimum of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tread, around its entire circumference. This can easily checked with the use of a 20p coin.
Simply place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit. If the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe and should be checked immediately by a qualified tyre professional.
When taking the test, remember to check at least three locations around each tyre. As the test is so quick and easy, stay safe by checking your tyres at least once a month.
A quick and easy way to see if your tyre tread exceed the minimum legal tread depth is to take the 20p test.
Your tyres are in constant contact with the road and as such they suffer a lot of wear and tear, even if you drive carefully. This is why it’s vital that you keep an eye on the condition of your tyres.
Tyres are never manufactured with lumps, bumps or objects sticking in them, so if you see any of these, you’ll need to have the tyre inspected. Tyres should be examined frequently, removing stones or other embedded objects from the tread. If the tyre has lumps or bulges it must be examined by a tyre specialist since these could indicate internal damage. Remove oil or grease with a suitable diluted detergent. Always seek the help of a professional if you are unsure about any aspect of your tyre’s condition.
To stay safe on the road your car needs to have the correct tyre pressure. If the tyres are under or over inflated then handling and grip will worsen, potentially causing irregular or unpredictable car behaviour.
Tyres with insufficient air are also more likely to suffer from a sudden rapid deflation and will suffer premature wear on the outside edges of the tyre.The wheel rim and tyre will be more susceptible to impact damage. Over-inflation results in less comfortable ride, a reduced area of contact with the road giving less grip in the day and accelerated wear on the tread centre . The benefits of a properly inflated tyre, include reduced running costs and longer tyre life.
The vehicle manufacturers’ handbook contains the correct pressures for your tyres, as well as it being available inside the fuel filler cap or driver’s door sill. Many tyre retailers will also be able to provide this information. Alternatively, car drivers can obtain the correct tyre pressure for their car by visiting the tyre pressure checker on TyreSafe’s website and entering their vehicle’s registration details.