Taking time for tyre maintenance

Tyre safety charity TyreSafe is reminding drivers that ignoring tyre maintenance can not only increase their motoring costs, it can increase their risk of being involved in an incident

Tyre safety charity TyreSafe is reminding motorists that regular tyre checks will not only help road users stay safe, it will also help them to avoid unnecessary bills.

When it comes to insurance, an insurer may not be obliged to pay the owner’s costs if an incident they are involved in is proven to have been caused by defective tyres on their vehicle. In such instances where poor tyre maintenance is proven, the insurer may only be required to pay the third party costs and not those incurred by the person deemed to be responsible. To be certain, always check tyres are in good roadworthy condition.

Tyres driven below the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended setting increase the amount of fuel used. Tyres will also wear more quickly, meaning owners may only benefit from 90 per cent of a tyre’s potential life and will need to change them more regularly. To avoid this, find the right setting, which can be found in the handbook, door sill or filler cap, and use an accurate gauge to check the pressure is correct before setting off.

Tread depth

Driving with tyres which have tread below the legal minimum limit of 1.6mm leaves drivers vulnerable to a potential £2,500 fine for each tyre found to be illegal. It is almost impossible to predict how quickly a tyre’s tread will wear, so the only way to be sure is regularly checking it.

Ideally a tread depth gauge should be used but a 20-pence piece may be used as a guide. When inserted into the tread, if the border of the 20-pence piece is clearly visible, it may be illegal and should be checked by a professional using an accurate gauge.

Defective tyres are the second most common cause of cars’ MOT failures in Britain and tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are also part of the test. If a car is failed for defects with either, it cannot legally be driven away from the test station, leaving the owner with fewer options to shop around for the best price to have them fixed or replaced. Regular checks every month will highlight these defects in advance of the MOT.

Buying used tyres

While the biggest concern with buying used or part worn tyres is uncertainty of their safety, they also cost more in the long term.

Part worns can legally be sold with a minimum tread depth of 2mm, leaving just 0.4mm before reaching the legal limit but even those sold with deeper tread will not have the same amount of life left as with a new tyre. TyreSafe research has shown it can cost over £1 more per mm of tread for a part worn than a new tyres.

Time cost

Breakdown recovery services attend hundreds of thousands of call-outs for drivers suffering tyre-related issues on Britain’s roads every year. This not only leaves vehicles and occupants stranded in vulnerable situations next to busy roads, it also costs huge amounts of time for those travelling and other road users caught in the aftermath.

A substantial proportion of these incidents could be avoided by regular tyre checks.

Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe, said: “Safety on the roads is always of paramount importance but drivers should also be aware that ignoring tyre safety is a false economy. In any other instance, if someone was asked to do something which not only makes them safer but also saves them money, they’d consider it a ‘no-brainer’ – so why not with their tyres? Tyre checks are a win‑win, and TyreSafe encourages all Britain’s motorists to make this maintenance routine, at least once a month every month.”

Winter driving

With a cold weather warning sweeping the nation, now is the right time for drivers to pay particular attention to tyre safety.

That makes winter tyres an option for many but all road users should at least ensure tyres are in good condition and ready to face all possible road conditions.

As the UK’s average mean temperature is below 7°C throughout the winter months, winter tyres become the optimal choice for motorists.

Even at low temperatures, they stay supple and provide the best levels of grip unlike summer tyres which harden in these conditions.

Winter tyres also have an increased number of ‘sipes’ or grooves in the tread allowing more contact with the road in icy or wet conditions.

All-season tyres are an increasingly popular option as they provide better performance than summer tyres in winter and are designed to be driven all year‑round. However, they do not offer the optimal performance of summer tyres in warm weather or winter tyres in the cold.

When deciding whether winter or all-season tyres are their best option for the months ahead, TyreSafe is recommending owners consider their own driving requirements and, most importantly, ensure they and their tyres are prepared for winter driving.

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