The Brake Blog
News and views from around the road safety world, with contributions from partners, researchers and campaigners as well as Brake staff and volunteers. All views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily represent those of Brake or its employees.
A Guide to Car Tyre Safety
One of the most important aspects of staying safe on the road, is having a road worthy safe vehicle which is properly equipped. One area that some drivers fail on is having the right tyres for the job. In the latest Brake blog, Lewis Baker, who writes for traders-insurance.com, advises us all how to be road safe when in comes to looking after our tyres.
Safe tyres are completely vital to your protection on the road. After all, they are the only point of contact between your vehicle and the road. The actual contact space is incredibly small, but it allows us to stop quickly in an emergency and also to remain stable in all conditions. Bald tyres have little to no grip, meaning that it will take a great deal longer to stop (if at all) and they are nothing but hazardous. Here’s a guide to car tyre safety and the steps you can take to make sure you are both safe and legal.
The Tyre Laws
Firstly, the law requires that you are fitted with tyres that are both the correct size and type for your vehicle. The second is that you must ensure they are above the legal limit at all times. With use and time, your tyres will start to wear down and deflate. This is when they begin to lose their grip and tread, thus becoming a threat to your safety.
The legal limit, with regards to the depth of your tyres, is 1.6mm. At this point they should be changed immediately to avoid potential incidents. It is widely recommended that tyres should be changed at 3mm to prevent the situation being forgotten, but also to remain as safe as possible – especially in wet or icy conditions.
General Tyre Information
There are several important things that should be noted before you go to purchase a new set of tyres. Of course, you need to ensure they are the right size and type. However, you should also take the following into account (and always consult the professionals):
- Load index (for maximum load)
- Speed symbol
- Tread wear (with further temperature grades)
- All season or winter
- From a trusted brand
Tyre Inflation and Pressure
Proper inflation of your tyres is a vital part of road safety. Under inflation can lead to heat building up, which leads to the internal structure becoming damaged. Over inflation can lead to your tyres becoming more fragile than usual, with hard impacts potentially leading to punctures or cuts. Tire failures like this can lead to serious incidents that could include injury or death.
You cannot spot an under inflated tyre just by looking at them. In fact, even if you compare a fully inflated tyre to one that has lost half of its inflation, you would never know when you looked at each of them. You can monitor the pressure manually or by using sensors that are attached to your vehicle. These will alert you when the pressure begins to decline so that you are able to take action.
Getting a tyre pressure monitoring system installed in your vehicle could be hugely advantageous to you. After all, by alerting you to the reduced pressure it could prevent you from having an incident, or even save your life.
Despite needing to change your tyres on a relatively regular basis, they do deteriorate with age – and some faster than others. An ageing tyre can lead to complete failure which, as previously noted, can have very serious consequences. Here is how you can spot an ageing tyre:
- Vibrations through tyre as driving
- Tyre wall cracking
- Distortion of the tread
- Deformity of tyre body
If you find yourself with aged tyres they should be removed and put out of use immediately. Any tyres that you have been in possession of for six years or more should be disposed of due to deterioration. Always read the manufacture date on the tyre before using them.
There are several reasons why a tyre might begin to deteriorate. Some of them can be found here:
- Tyres fitted as spare wheels
- Tyres used on caravans and trailers
- Tyres left in garage for several years
- Tyres on old and unused cars
- Tyres used in coastal areas (due to amount of saline)
- Tyres that have incorrect cleaning products used on them
Always inspect your tyres for signs of ageing regularly.
The Dangers of Fake Tyres
It might be a little difficult to believe that there are fake tyres on the market, but it is unfortunately true and many people have been affected negatively by the experience. In September 2015, it was found that 25% of drivers had at least one fake tyre on their car – a shockingly large number that was not only up from last year but has continued to rise.
Many wonder if fake tyres are a problem, but safety tests that were conducted showed them to be far less efficient than branded tyres when it came to braking, as well as the overall quality and build. They may be far cheaper than most, but they certainly do not offer the same level of safety and quality. Ultimately, it could lead to an increase in road traffic collisions.
Car tyre safety is vital for your protection while driving. It is important that you are aware of the legal requirements for your tyres, as well as the aspects that require regular inspection for your safety and security. Not only this, but the dangers of fake tyres also need to be addressed due to their potential safety risks. Don’t be tempted by the price and always go for the branded ones. With this guide, you can keep on top of your road safety.
Lewis Baker writes for motor trade insurance specialists traders-insurance.com and has written for the Brake blog in the past.