Reliable and well-maintained tyres are one of the most important factors for a safe and comfortable drive, so it’s essential to keep them in good condition.
However, UK motorists were fined £27 million last year because their tyres were below the legal repair level. To help ensure your tyres are up to scratch, Warranty Direct has put together its top tips on tyre maintenance.
Why it’s important
Illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres are the most common vehicle defect contributing to fatal crashes, yet they’re some of the simplest to detect and rectify. As well as being dangerous, motorists could be fined up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each defective tyre.
The grooves in tyres help your car brake, steer and accelerate properly. They also remove water from the contact patch between tyres and the road surface, when driving in wet conditions.
Poor tyre quality has a significant impact on vehicle stopping distances. For example; research found a car travelling at 50mph fitted with tyres with a tread depth of 4.1mm stopped in 24.3m on a wet road.
However, with a tread depth of 1.6mm, the braking distance increased to 32.7m, so tyre quality is essential for keeping stopping distances at a safe range.
Check your tread
The legal minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6 mm across the central three-quarters of the tread width and around its entire circumference. Check the depth of the main tread grooves in several places across and around the tyre to ensure the entire surface area is legal.
Tyres also have tread wear indicators moulded into the base of the main grooves. When the tread surface is worn to the same level as these indicators, the tyre is at the minimum legal limit and should be replaced.
If you are unsure, place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when inserted, your tread is legal. If the outer band of the coin is visible, your tread may be too worn, so head to a garage as soon as you can.
Don’t forget the pressure
Tyre pressure monitoring systems are a legal requirement for all new vehicles, alerting drivers to any changes, which need seeing to. However, they shouldn’t replace physically checking your tyres for faults.
If a tyre is under-inflated by 5 PSI (pounds per square inch) it can reduce its life by around 25%, as it puts more pressure on the edges of the tread, causing deterioration of the casing and faster wear.
Under-inflated tyres can also increase fuel consumption by around 6%, so you’ll be paying for more fuel and harming the environment.
Over-inflated tyres can lead to increased impact damage and concentrate road contact in the centre of the tyre, accelerating wear.
Consider driving style
Your driving style has a big impact on how quickly tyres deteriorate. Hard braking, fast acceleration and aggressive cornering can reduce tread depth more quickly, so you’ll need to replace tyres more frequently.
Driving at high speeds causes tyres to become hotter, which can lead to increased damage and the risk of tyres burning out while on the road.
The added pressure of a fully loaded car can result in the tread wearing out quicker. Your car’s manual should come with a tyre pressure guide for when carrying a heavy load, so ensure you prepare correctly for these types of journeys.
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