How often do you check your tyres? The rubber which connects motorists to the road is often neglected – sometimes with dire consequences.
Britain’s road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist recently urged motorists to make regular checks on their tyres, to ensure tread depths are sufficient and pressures are correct.
The call follows the announcement that the UK government has commissioned a study to understand the relationship between tyre degradation, time and road safety.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth explained: “We rely on our tyres to keep us safe on journeys. After all, they provide the only contact between the car we’re driving and the road surface. In an extreme situation, correctly inflated tyres with good levels of tread will allow all the other safety systems on a car to work at their most effective.
“Inadequate tread or incorrect pressure mean one thing: the safety systems on your vehicle will not work as efficiently. That’s why regular checks on tyre inflation and tread depth are so important.
“There are severe penalties if you use worn or defective tyres. Each bald or defective tyre carries a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points.” (The penalty in Cyprus is €50).
Apart from the safety aspect, GEM points out that there are also economy benefits from properly inflated tyres: incorrect inflation increases the chances of damaging a tyre, and under-inflated tyres create more resistance on the road, leading to an increase in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Said Worth: “We’re urging drivers to take time on a regular basis to ensure their tyres are correctly inflated, with plenty of tread. Straightforward checks don’t take long, and good tyres really could prove a life-saver for you and your passengers … possibly on your very next journey.”
GEM has compiled a list of eight simple tyre care tips.
1. Check the tread on each tyre on a regular basis – every two weeks should be a minimum.
2. Remember that you should carry out proper checks across the entire width of a tyre and around its circumference. Check the depth of the main tread grooves in several places across and around the tyre.
3. Use a simple gauge to check tread depth. The legal minimum tread depth for a car is 1.6 mm across the central three-quarters of the tread width and round its entire circumference.
4. You will also find tread wear indicators at regular intervals around the main grooves. When a tyre’s tread surface is worn to the same level as these indicators, then the tyre is at the legal limit and must be replaced.
5. Check for any cuts, tears, swellings and bumps. These could be caused by going through a pothole or hitting the kerb. If there’s anything to give you cause for concern, then get the tyre checked by an expert as soon as possible.
6. Check pressure using a tyre pressure gauge or the air machines found on most garage forecourts. Pressures for your car can normally be found in your owner’s manual. You may also find the pressure marked on the driver’s door pillar or inside the fuel flap. Otherwise, look up the pressures you need using a tyre pressure website.
7. Recommended tyre pressures change if you are carrying a full load or a lot of passengers. So make sure you use the right figure for the journeys you are about to make.
8. Don’t forget to check the condition of the spare tyre. Too often it’s the forgotten tyre until you suddenly find you need it.