October marks the start of Tyre Safety Month, which is an annual campaign by TyreSafe to raise awareness of the importance of checking your car tyres. A recent survey by Tyresafe has shown that an estimated one in five drivers have never checked the tread of their tyres and this figure rises to one in three amongst younger drivers. The condition of tyres is important all year round, but arguably even more so as we head into the winter months with more challenging driving conditions.
Not sure where to start when it comes to checking your tyres? Don’t worry. Tyre checks can be simple and once you get in the habit they should only take a few minutes. There are three key things to look out for, and they can be remembered by the acronym ‘ACT’.
A – Air Pressure
The correct tyre pressure is important for maintaining grip on the road and can improve vehicle handling. Under-inflated tyres often wear unevenly, particularly in the outer edges of the tyre. This means you can lose grip in patches, and over time the wheel rim may become damaged too. On the other end of the scale over-inflated tyres are also problematic, as they can wear more in the centre of the tyre and reduce the area of contact with the road resulting in less grip overall. They can also make for a firmer, more uncomfortable ride.
It’s best to check tyre pressure every month using a reliable tyre pressure gauge of your own or visiting a petrol station to use one there (these are usually free of charge). Tyre pressure is measured in PSI, which stands for pounds per square inch. Tyre pressure readings are most accurate when your tyres are cold, so don’t check after a long journey or on an overly hot day if you can avoid it.
You can find the correct tyre pressures for your car in your handbook, sometimes this is also printed in your car door rim or labelled in the fuel cap. You should always inflate to the pressure recommended by your manufacturer.
There are cost-saving benefits too! Keeping your tyres at the right pressure can help your car run more efficiently which reduces fuel costs. It can also increase the lifespan of your tyres, saving you even more money in the long run.
C – Condition
Your tyres should be checked regularly to make sure they are in good condition, aim to do a visual inspection at least every two weeks. Have a check over the entire surface and walls of the tyre ensuring there are no lumps, bumps or tears. Take some time to give the tyres a clean too. Warm water and a suitable detergent will wash off any grease and you can remove any small stones at the same time.
If you find any irregularities in the surface of the tyre, or sharp objects like glass or nails it’s important to get it checked out by a professional.
T – Tread
The final element to check is the tread depth. Having sufficient tread is important as these grooves help to disperse water from the area the tyre makes contact with the road.
Tyres with reduced treads have greater stopping distances and are at a higher risk of aquaplaning in wet conditions. Aquaplaning is an extremely dangerous scenario where the tyres lose grip with the road and travel on the water, meaning the driver cannot brake or steer effectively.
The current UK law states that the tyres must have a minimum depth of 1.6mm across the centre three quarters of the tread and round the whole tyre. It’s also worth noting that the punishment for driving with tyres under the legal depth is a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points per wheel.
Tyre tread depth can be checked simply with the ‘20p test’. If you insert a 20p coin into the tread and the band around the edge of the coin is hidden then the tread can be considered over 1.6mm. This should be done in several places around the tyre as wear isn’t always consistent. You can also purchase tyre depth measuring gauges if you would prefer to know exactly how much tread you have left.
If you are at all unsure about the condition, pressure or tread on your tyres it is best to have them checked by a professional. Tyre pressure, condition and tread will also be checked as part of your routine car service and MOT’s.
In partnership with UK-based charity TyreSafe, Ford Service is helping raise awareness of the importance of tyre safety. TyreSafe is the UK’s charity dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of correct tyre maintenance and the dangers of defective and illegal tyres.
In 2019, 141 people were killed or seriously injured in UK Motoring incidents where defective tyres were a contributory factor. The DVSA estimate that approximately 2.2 million cars fail the MOT due to tyre-related defects each year, accounting for 27.8% of all MOT failures.
Ensure you book a FREE Tyre Safety Check using the form below. ( *T*C's apply. Free tyre checks only available at Peoples Ford until the 31st October 2021)