October is tyre safety month. Leeds City Council want to spread the word about how important tyre safety is, by reminding drivers of the importance of frequent tyre pressure checks to improve road safety, reduce motoring costs and be kinder to the environment.
At the end of March 2018, there were 37.9 million vehicles licensed for use on the roads in Great Britain, of which 31.3 million were cars. Research by TyreSafe suggests that almost 10 million of those vehicles are being driven with illegal tyres each year, putting lives at risk. Millions of drivers in the UK are driving around on illegal and dangerous tyres; one in four motorists have one or more tyres with dangerous tread depth.
Tyre Tread & Tyre Pressure
Your cars tyres are the only part of the vehicle that makes any contact with the road surface. They play a critical role in the handling (such as the steering and braking) and safety of the entire vehicle. Therefore it’s essential that you know how to check your tyres for any defects or general wear and tear. The depth on the tyre refers to the cracks in your tyres, which should be at least 1.6mm deep. However, for optimum safety, it is recommended that your tyres should be changed at 3mm.
- It’s a very simple test when you need to check the tread of your tyres. All you need is a 20p coin. When the 20p is inserted into the main tread grooves, the outer band of the coin should be obscured. This means that the tyres are above the legal limit, and you’re safe to drive.
Maintaining tyre pressure is just as important as checking tread depth, but this is often forgotten by drivers.
Under inflation is also a concern. You might not think much of it if your tyres are not inflated to the correct PSI as specified in your vehicle handbook. But under inflated tyres can be a real danger to you and other road users. They increase your braking distance as the tyre contact patch is not fully connecting with the road and they affect your road handling making it more difficult to corner.
But safety isn’t the only issue. If your tyres are under inflated you might feel the pinch in your pocket too as under-inflated tyres consume more fuel meaning you’ll need to refuel more often and your tyres will wear faster than usual and need replacing much sooner.
TyreSafe has found that over half (56.8%) of car tyres on UK roads are at least 4 PSI below their recommended pressure and that an estimated £600m is wasted on excess fuel as a result of driving with under-inflated tyres.
How to correctly inflate your tyres
Checking your tyres to make sure they are not under inflated is easy and most garage forecourts provide air for a small charge.
- Firstly, make sure you know what the correct tyre pressure should be for your vehicle by checking the vehicle handbook. The correct pressure is also usually printed inside the jamb of the driver’s door or under the petrol cap.
- Then, set the machine to the correct tyre pressure.
- Tip: since most petrol stations provide air on a timer, make sure you remove the dust caps from your tyres before starting the machine to maximise your time and ensure you’re not having to fiddle with these once the clock starts!
- Attach the airline to the tyre valve and the machine will show you the current air pressure. It will beep to let you know when the desired tyre pressure PSI is reached (so it’s important to set this correctly first).
- If you are at all unsure about your tyre pressure or have a question about your tyres, just pop in to your local Auto centre and they’ll be happy to check them for you.
As the driver of a vehicle, you are responsible for ensuring the tyres are safe, legal and in a roadworthy state. Failure to comply with the minimum regulations can result in fines of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre. This could cost you your licence, or even worse, your life.
On top of the fine you could also have other very serious consequences:
- You could cause an accident, injuring yourself and others in the process.
- Less tread depth means less grip, which means worse handling.
- Your tyre is likely to go flat quicker – which increases the chances that they could burst whilst you are driving along.
- A reduction in grip means your stopping distance increases – you are also more likely to skid and lose control on non-ideal road conditions.
- Your insurance cover could be invalid.
Drivers are advised to look out for signs of irregular wear on their tyres. This could be in the form of cuts, lumps or bulges. If this isn’t regularly checked you could face driving with a defective tyre which could deflate very quickly.
What causes irregular tyre wear?
Irregular tyre wear can usually be down to a variety of driving habits, but unfortunately there’s no definitive answer. These habits can be anything from aggressive turning, repeatedly scuffing tyres along kerbs or pavements or under inflation of tyres on one side of the car.
Remember, it’s not just the tyres that you need to check; it’s the rest of the vehicle too.
Find my ideal pressure here https://www.kwik-fit.com/tyres/information/tyre-pressure-search