How much do you actually know about tyre safety?
It’s an amazing feeling when you pass your driving test. At last, you can drive alone and be independent - a whole new world opens up before you. But it's true that you don't really learn to drive until after you’ve passed and even then there's still a lot more you need to be aware of. Checking your vehicle's safety isn't a mandatory part of your driving lessons and even the most experienced drivers and riders don't necessarily know where to start when it comes to checking their car or motorcycle.
Whilst you should always have your vehicle serviced in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations, there are plenty of straight forward checks you can carry out yourself to prevent a potential breakdown or issue.
In the first of our self-help guides we cover how to check your tyres.
TYRE SAFETY CHECKS
There are three key checks to make to ensure tyre safety: tyre pressure, tyre tread depth and the overall condition.
These checks should be made each month, and especially before any long journeys. You could even get into the habit of checking your tyres each time you fill up.
Tyre pressure – you'll find a tyre pressure gauge at nearly all petrol stations. You’ll find the recommended pressure for your particular vehicle (measured in PSI/BAR) either in
your owner's manual, inside the fuel tank cover or inside the ledge of the driver’s
It’s best to check your tyre pressure when the tyres are cold, as this way you get a more accurate reading.
Tyre Tread Depth
How to check tyre tread depth? Do the 20p test!
Tyre tread depth – always remember to check the tread depth on each of your tyres. The minimum depth is 1.6mm and you can easily test this by using a 20p coin (the rim is exactly 1.6mm). Place the coin into the tread - if you can see the rim of the coin then the tyre is approaching the legal minimum tread depth and you should consider replacing.
Tyre tread can wear unevenly for a number of reasons but usually associated with suspension or alignment or even as the result of driving on underinflated or overinflated tyres.
Overall condition – a visual inspection is all that's needed here. Have a good look at your tyres:
- Are there any cuts in the side wall?
- Are there any stones or nails etc in the tread?
- It’s hard to see the inside of the tyre sometimes, but if you park with the wheels angled you should be able to see more.
Potentially dangerous illegal tyres - What does that mean to me though?
Ever heard of 'AQUAPLANING'? In situations when your tyres have insufficient tread depth to clear surface water on the road, you may experience the particularly hazardous phenomenon of aquaplaning.
In this situation your tyres lose contact with the road surface and travel on top of the water’s surface - and with no contact with the road, you are unable to accelerate, brake or steer effectively, greatly increasing your risk of being involved in an accident.
Independent tests carried out by the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) found that a cars braking ability starts to dramatically reduce once the tread depth on the tyres reaches 3mm.
To reduce your risk of aquaplaning, check your tyre tread depth regularly.
The expensive consequence
Did you know that for each illegal tyre you could face three points on your licence and a maximum fine of £2,500 per tyre!
If you receive six points in your first two years of driving, your licence gets revoked and you will have to retake your theory and practical tests. This could be the result for being caught with two illegal tyres.
Of course, these penalties alone should act as a restraint but the safety of drivers, passengers and other road users has to be the ultimate reason for keeping tyre safe.
If you are unsure if your tread depth is within legal limits, have any worries about uneven wear or struggle with carrying out any of these checks yourself then our team of trained experts are always on hand to help. We can carry out a free tyre check and should you need to look at any replacement tyres can offer extremely competitive prices (you can get better than a Kwik Fit Fitter!)
Click here to get in touch - we will be more than happy to help!