Are Your Tyres Road Safe?
Updated August 24, 2013
Has it occured to you that the only parts of your car that touch the road whilst you are driving are just four small pieces of rubber? Infact its roughly equivalent to just four size eight men’s shoes. This makes it of the utmost importance that your tyres are in an excellent condition. Failing to check the condition of your tyres before setting out on a long journey could have fatal consequences.
You should carry out the following checks regularly to ensure your tyres are road safe and legal
Tyre Tread Depth
Tyres should be inspected for wear at least twice a month. Things to check for include signs of cracking or bulging, and small objects caught in the tread such as stones or nails. If excessive wear is apparent on the tyre then it should be replaced as soon as possible. It is important to remember that your tyres will wear at different rates. The front tyres usually wear faster than the back so don’t presume that just because one looks good they will all be.
Tyres treads are specifically designed to help “pump” the water from the road surface whilst you drive providing maximum grip. Once the tyre tread has worn down to the legal limit then your tyres wont be able to perform this task properly and should be replaced. In the UK, by law, all cars and light goods vehicles should have a tyre tread depth of at least 1.6mm around the entire circumference. The vehicle breaking and handling performance will be reduced once the depth reaches between 2-3mm. Most tyre manufacturers will recommend changing them at 2mm but once your tread is below 3mm you will find that it probably loses performance in wet conditions. Most tyres have a built-in tread wear indicator nowadays so once this becomes visible, the tyre needs to be replaced. Aggressive driving can have a dramatic impact on the lifespan of your tyres and wear the treads expeditiously.
Tyre Air Pressure
Regular checks on the air pressure in your car can help to improve not only the overall driving experience but it will keep you road legal. Taking the time to make sure all of your car tyres are at the correct air pressure will help to stop tyre blow-outs. Inaccurate tyre pressure can also lead to high petrol consumption, make your vehicle very difficult to handle at speed and will cause your tyres to wear unevenly around the circumference. If your tyres are not inflated enough they will stretch and yeild and this increases your cars stopping distance.
The PSI that is listed on the tyre sidewall is the maximum pressure for the tyre carrying the heaviest load your vehicle will support so don’t be tempted to over inflate them this could also cause damage to your tyres if you run into potholes or other objects on the road. It is also important to ensure that your tyres are cold when checking the air pressure. Air will expand in heat and direct sunlight can heat up tyres just a small amount, even on a car that has not been driven, so for a more accurate reading try to take your readings from a position that is away from the sunlight. Your tyres air pressure should always match the vehicle manufacturers specifications. Tyre inflation pressure information can commonly be found inside of the drivers side door. If you can’t find it here then it will be listed in the vehicle handbook made by the manufacturers.
Tyre Valve Stems
The tyre valves should also be carefully checked. You’d be surprised how many people forget them! Ensure the caps are all in place on each valve stem on every wheel. You should also check there is no damage to the actual valve stem.
Now that you’ve checked your tyres are road safe you may need to replace them
When buying tyres you should never buy one that is over six years old. An easy way to check the age of the tyre is to look for the DOT number. This is located on the sidewall. the DOT number will look something like “DOT XXXX 3508”. In this example the tyre was manufactured on the 35th week in 2008.
Wheel & Tyre supply Calibre Alloy Wheels and have over 25 years experience in the automotive aftermarket industry.
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