Any race team will tell you that the most important part of any car is the bit that connects you to the tarmac…the tyres. And it’s the same with any road vehicle. Tyres are crucially important, certainly for speed and efficiency but most importantly for your safety.
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By following the simple checks detailed in this guide you can help ensure your tyres are always well maintained which will result in better performance, efficiency and economy. Driving on tyres that fall below the required legal standards can result in hefty penalties which is another reason why we stress the importance of these checks.
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Checking the Condition of your Tyres
The condition of your tyres is exceptionally important and there are legal requirements with regards to your tyres. Here is what you should check on a regular basis:
Check your vehicle’s tyre pressure against that recommended by the manufacturer. It’s important to always check your tyre pressure when the wheels are cold to get an accurate reading. Driving on tyres with the wrong amount of pressure can result in less grip, reduced control, faster wear,increased fuel consumption and sometimes complete tyre failure.
Your tyres’ tread depth needs to meet the legal requirement of 1.66 millimetres across the central ¾ of the tyre. In fact you might be interested to know that every day thousands of people will be on the road without the correct tread depth of 1.6mm. A good tip to quickly check whether you have the correct tread dept is to take a 20 pence piece and place it in the tread of your tyre. If the tread doesn’t cover the outer band of the coin then it may be illegal for you to drive on your tyres and you will need to buy new tyres.
General maintenance such as cleaning dirt from the valves, ensuring they are all fitted with caps, removing any stone or objects from tread and checking for any early warning signs are all great to prevent premature tyre wear.
All these checks are worth doing every couple of weeks and, or before a long journey as keeping on top of the general maintanance of your tyres will mean you can get the most out of them.
What Causes Excessive Tyre Damage?
Neglecting your tyres can lead to decreased tyre life, poor fuel efficiency and handling performance. The main causes behind these coomon tyre problems are:
The heat generated from travelling at high speeds for a sustained period of time, such as when you drive on a motorway or if you regularly break the statutory speed limits, can put harsh demands on your tyres, wearing your tyres down faster. However correctly inflated tyres will withstand any built up heat from driving at maximum speed limits.
Overloading your car
By loading your vehicle with more weight than it was designed to carry you can run the risk of excessive tyre wear from overheating due the the additional load being carried by the tyres. This in turn often makes your tyres more vulnerable to damage.
Incorrect tyre pressure is one of the most common causes of damage to the tyre, including shoulder wear and uneven tread. In fact surveys have shown that around 25% of tyres serviced by engineers in the UK were under-inflated my more than 10%.
Dangers of Unmaintained Tyres
The risk of an accident occurring between another motorist and yourself is greatly increased when your tyre pressure is not at it’s correct level as stopping distances increase and handling/cornering ability is reduced which makes it harder for your vehicle to react to what’s going on on the road.
If the tread depth falls below the legal limit you could be faced with three points on your licence and fines of up to a £2,500 per tyre. Ouch!
Hazardous conditions like rain or ice can make driving dangerous for cars with pristine tyres so you can imagine the extent of the increased risk you may be putting yourself at when your tyres are not up to scratch.